Jeff Sufferings 2001 release of Real Panic Formed was a strong first release for the Thieves collective. Suffering’s thematic groveling over moral decay was set to a sickly romantic orchestral sounding hangover. In ’03, Rats in Heaven gave a whole new meaning to the American tradition of the murder ballad. Like previous efforts, Ashamed still touches on depression, human depravity and redemption. But now more than ever, the ever rotating cast of the Thieves ensemble has truly captured the mood of the music by providing the appropriate backdrop for Sufferings maniacal rants.
“We paid close attention to harmony with all the instruments in a way that allows all of the parts to shine” states Suffering. But not to worry, this musical maturing doesn’t render the Thieves rock impotent like others that undergo the dreaded “artistic development”. Drawing from Birthday Party era Nick Cave J Cuplin’s spastic guitar molestations are–as Suffering puts it–“schizophrenic and choppy”. Coupled with Sufferings back street profit caterwaul, Ashamed is the Thieves most sonically heavy recording to date.
And though Ashamed channels a sort of aural kicking and screaming punk catharsis, there is a surprising amount of musical restraint. Just as the dissonant bombast threatens to take over, S. Warren’s violin beautifully weaves in and out of verses melodically pulling back the reigns giving the entire recording a true sense of tension.
Though Suffering’s Thieves project has mellowed a few beats per minute from his punk rock days in Ninety Pound Wuss and Raft of Dead Monkeys, there’s certainly no energy lost on stage. As so aptly put by Seattle entertainment weekly The Stranger “the stage was populated with all manner of musicians and singers playing instruments passionately and carelessly, some appearing pained while others seemed possessed.” Simply put, those blessed enough to experience the Thieves live in action will leave the venue in awe.
So much dense artistry historically tends to self implodes under its own creative weight. But Suffering is a lifer and there are sure to be countless future releases with as many local musical contributors. Says Suffering: “As of now, we will continue to put out obscure releases until the Lord comes back, or until we die, or can’t rock anymore.” As far as short term plans for ’05 and ’06, “We may do a west coast tour with Neon Blonde, and Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death” Says Suffering.
If the indie music world is paying attention and collectively active in the musical archeological dig for truly great music, Suffering and the Hideous Thieves will go down in history as a band of legend. But for those already privy, history has already been written.
Believe from “Ashamed” (lujo032) / Download
I Will Always Find A Way from “Ashamed” (lujo032) / Download
Her Blood from “Rats in Heaven” (lujo009) / Download
The Potters Field from “Rats in Heaven” (lujo009) / Download
Sex Is Dead from “Real Panic Formed” (lujo005) / Download
The Other Side of the Moon from “Real Panic Formed” (lujo005) / Download
All My Friends are on Prozac Remix from “All My Friends are on Prozac” (lujo004) / Download
St. Elizabeth from “Split Double Album” (lujo003) / Download