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Earlier this week, DC DIY concern Priests announced a hiatus. Sometimes when a band does this it’s due to specific circumstances — someone is on tour with a side project, in rehab, had a kid. But the underlying assumption is that within two to five years, they’ll be back, just stop pestering them on socials about when they’ll tour your town.

Priests’ announcement is not like that. It reads like a band that knows they’re done. They’re saying “hiatus” because they want to leave the door open “in case they change their minds.” They don’t want to go out on a note of bad blood. But it seems they’re done.

That sucks.

Rock and roll has, over the last ten-twenty years, stopped being a chart-topping cultural force. If you aren’t a legacy act or Imagine Dragons you’re likely playing clubs and theaters rather than arenas. There are people that are very concerned about this. I’m not. Rock has been “dead” since it’s inception, and the goalposts for what constitutes a genre’s health are constantly moving.

There are plenty of bands making great rock music these days, especially in the last few years. You have scene veterans, perserverers, and newcomers making music that is exciting, current, relevant.

But Priests thread the needle that is writing songs both attuned to the current moment and able to live past it. Singer Katie Alice Greer has one hell of a voice, and uses it spectacularly. Sometimes sneering, sometimes talk-singing, and often belting it to the rafters. Her lyrics are precise, specific incisions into modern American life, often inhabiting characters while simultaneously critiquing them. GL Jaguar’s guitars range from the thick fuzz of punk rock to barely-there atmospherics, to shimmering surf, depending what the song needs. Drummer Daniele Daniele plays with precision and power, but never overplays.

I could go on, and would, but we’ll let this last anecdote suffice: I was playing Priests’ excellent and criminally overlooked record “Seduction of Kansas” at my work. My co-worker, a reliable barometer of musical excellence said:

No offense to arguably the consistently best rock band of 1996–2015, but nope. The song in question was Priests. Check out their music below.

Originally published at how’s your morale?.

Written by

Graham Isaac and Peter Johnson

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