by Jonathan Bannister (@j_utah)
When one thinks of the DC music scene it can be hard to think of much outside of Dischord. Some may tack on DeSoto Records or the go-go bands of the past but it’s Dischord that has shaped much of the listening landscape. This does a disservice to the current crop of bands like Priests, Two Inch Astronaut (RIP), and Flasher. Bands who might be indebted to those bands of old but who have been forging their own way… you know what, none of this has anything to do with Flasher’s new album Constant Image. It’s a feeble attempt to place it within a larger framework, and to try and impart some greater significance onto an album that’s only been out a week or two. But none of that answers the most immediate question which is should one listen to the album? That is the easiest question to answer, yes!
The fact is Flasher is very much their own band and could become just as important as those titans of the scene. They don’t sound like much of anyone you know from DC. There’s no doubt they know and listen to those band but they write and play hook filled melodic songs that compel you to move. They’re more new wave than anything, sharing angles to their music that remind one of Devo or The B-52’s. Their songs are lethal ear worms and you’ll find yourself humming "Pressure" and "Skim Milk" late into the night. It’s an album that is front to back listenable. This is escape.
And while they might not sound like a DC band the city can’t help but be an influence. The way they play their songs are urgent, driving, and anthemic. The band writes the lyrics together. There’s a democratic ownership to the songs fueling a sense of togetherness. You can feel it in the songs themselves. Vocal duties are traded off. A part started on the bass will be finished on the guitar or vice versa. The parts work in synch with each other. It’s a fun listen. As someone said elsewhere “it is actually ok to NOT be constantly terrified and miserable, even in Trump’s America.”
But it can’t help but not be an undertone to the record. The fact is Flasher is like anyone else. Working day jobs, being creative when they can, trying to get by and make sense of this nightmare and do some good in the process. Songs about escape through drugs, dancing, community. “See you alone, pick up the telephone” they sing on "Pressure". A line with unwanted added weight in light of recent news. These are song about doing the best you can. Trying, screwing up, dusting off, and trying again. “All the songs that were made, just to imitate, were fake but true” they sing on the killer "Sun Come and Golden". Do what you can, even if it’s not new and original (what is) make it earnest. It’s an album that feels like it’s bucking against the cynicism that’s so easy to fall into.
Constant Image is a soundtrack to actual living. It’s messy, confused, some days you aren’t as into it as others. But working together can turn the ordinary into something other. Something that rises above and becomes seminal. “No shot, no story, no future, no faith” they shout on "Skim Milk". It’s as good a rally cry for the here and now as anything else. Go on and “violate your terms of service.”