Craig Finn of the Hold Steady has made a career by writing for the perspective of a scene elder, a has-been who used to bleed, scream and thrash with the hardcore kids at the city center. Turns out, he’s been writing about Single Mothers this whole time.
The Canadian band’s 2014 release, Negative Qualities, is a 20-minute screed of “fuck yous” spit at almost everyone; ex-girlfriends, college students, existential softies, gods, and, a lot, self. Of course, being muscular and distorted is only half of the equation. Like Finn, singer Andrew Thomson has a similar delivery and flair for the written word (“I was blacked out in the basement / like a soft pillow on the hard pavement”). Unlike Finn, Thomson forgives no one. Negative Qualities is a mean drunk friend at a basement show, starting fights and smashing bottles for no reason; it’s asshole music, but when it’s on, it feels like something is happening.