Warish – Down In Flames
by Jay Armstrong
Listening to people spout off nonsense about there being no solid bands making anything worthwhile anymore is about as worthless as hearing some MAGA calling someone a snowflake or saying that millennials have an inflated sense of entitlement for believing working two jobs and being unable to accomplish anything beyond dodging healthcare and student loan bills for the rest of their lives is a garbage existence to resign oneself to. That opening sentence is exactly why Warish get me all tingly; not from their being political or speaking up with a voice aligning with the subculture I value, instead it is the awareness that every moment of our lives for as long as my short-term memory can feel back has had an ominous weighted mixture of all defeating cold edged serious political undertones which find themselves more and more often choking conversations at parties. They surface up in work connections. They ooze around the isles at the corner store. Somehow our reality has become active shooter drills and teenagers battered by those with a badge. An ever echoing reminder of ration and reason shouted down by party lines. Warish remind me it is okay to say enough is enough sometimes.
As a kid I would daydream of being at a Minutemen show or hanging out with Black Flag backstage in the early eighties and going off in an outraged back and forth connection but to be honest things are too crystal now to dream of Reagan era classist rage. You cannot take life that serious. It will destroy you if you try. I know this, we know this, but sometimes you gotta put a record on which without saying a word takes you dimensionally away from here, helping clear the mind of out-of-your-control cluttering bullshit; to level out, to catch your breath, to regress back to those early days of finding records and screaming the volume, playing the songs over and over and over with no other thought beyond the belief only you have ever felt this way about this record before.
Warish are impossible to pin down; they are not doom and they are not metal, they are not vulgar and they are not safe. They probably drank heavily from Jay Reatard growing up and they probably find themselves as clueless as we are about what they will sound like in five years. Somehow Down In Flames is cohesive but to describe what gets this heart going double time from one track to the next is about as hard as explaining the escapist optimism found between the lines of Nietzsche and Zizek which with a positive mindset can have us laughing out loud at the dark humor buried beneath it–they either speak your language or they are so far removed from your tastes you feel repulsed by doing anything beyond tuning it out and turning it off. And that to me is what makes this band so goddamn intriguing in how they instill convicted loyalty to their cause without having anywhere near enough to go off of in figuring out if such commitment is even warranted.
Down In Flames opens with an early two-thousands take on what people were getting at when they said lo-fi as a genre descriptor before lo-fi as a descriptor was a thing. The first three songs go like this but around the time you are ready to start skipping through to see if this dog has any other tricks, then they begin kicking at their boundaries and throwing things off balance with “Bleed Me Free“which is repackaged nineties Cobain sweat, without the Freedom Deep mediocre pretension, foregoing the tired trick of angst for disaffected instead–and to be honest I don’t even know what that is supposed to mean but it made sense while the record railed out of my headphones at midnight on a Tuesday and since describing albums was a tired regurgitated mess of empty words from metaphorically illiterate people long before any of us were around–does it even make a difference?
How about I put it to you like this; “Shivers” is the best song on the album, it rips from the slow burn diesel engine warming up beginning through the whole “oh shit these guys actually know how to do something beyond turning their fuzz clockwise and letting people treat them like they are genius simply for never letting the signal turn to a one or zero,” the vocals smash our psychic shoreline crescendoing in peaked frantics, which brings us up to about the minute mark, the tempo coming on and off reminiscent of stoned with friends rides through the country in senior high all inconsistent smashing and letting off of the gas pedal while lost safely in the middle of nowhere with nothing but excitement and confusion bonding you and three or four close ones to a moment in a memory forever.
Everything about Warish is off the cuff and hazy; they are equal parts walking through the horror section in the glory days of mom and pop video stores coupled with that experience felt playing the mixtapes your cool uncle or cousin snuck into your hands from time to time to show you a world far above the small town filled with small people with small dreams in which you were born shackled to, cramming headphones constantly in ears drowning your nonconforming alienation with the gentle track by track realization you are not alone. Under all the lyrics and wild what-is-this newness hums a nomadic gypsy promise,” if you keep your eyes to the horizon, someday, someway, you might get to share in that nearly majestic idealized space and time lived by your mixtape heroes.” This Warish album reminds me of that far off fairy tale. Even though having been one of the lucky ones, having held the night with my heroes, waking in the wasted mornings of year after year tasting it in the flesh, chasing it endlessly near out of breath, til the why and what for are merely what else and why not, Down In Flames reminds me of something until now nearly forgotten; dreaming is actually more important than the dream.
If you happen to be in Austin they are playing tonight at Barracuda along with The Well and Zig Zags–two bands which I can personally say always rip regardless of your mood or the space they are in– with Acid King, Here Lights Man, and Blackwater Holylight on the lineup as well, their show is one of the single best guarantees for a wild time Levitation has to offer. Grab this record, share it with your nephew or cousin, be the change you hope to see in the world or whatever motivational quote is most fitting for doing the right thing at a time when doing the right thing seems to carry so much more weight than it use to.