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Self Defense Family - Try Me Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9.5
Musicianship 9.5
Lyrics 9.5
Production 9.5
Creativity 9.5
Lasting Value 9.5
Reviewer Tilt 9.5
Final Verdict: 95%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.75
Musicianship 9.13
Lyrics 9.63
Production 8.5
Creativity 9.25
Lasting Value 8.75
Reviewer Tilt 8.63
Average: 89%
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.

Self Defense Family - Try Me

Reviewed by: Drew Beringer (01/07/14)
Self Defense Family - Try Me
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Record Label: Deathwish


Self Defense Family is not your typical band. In fact, just referring that Self Defense Family is a band is an insult to the creative collective, a much more appropriate and accurate term. I’m not going to bore you with the complete SDF history, but the collective is composed of various musicians, producers, and free-thinkers led by vocalist Patrick Kindlon. Self Defense Family was formerly known as End Of A Year (which under that moniker they released 2010’s fantastic You Are Beneath Me), and the same lineup of musicians has never been duplicated amongst the various LPs, EPs, splits, and performances. Self Defense Family’s fourth full-length album (and second for Deathwish) is titled Try Me and you’d be hard-pressed to find a title that better suits the “fuck you” mentality of the band and the album’s topic.

Self Defense Family consistently throws caution to the wind when creating and releasing music. They want to record music from various countries? Try me. Put a huge photo of Kindlon’s mug on the cover of the 2012 EP, The Corrections Officer In Me? Try me. Release a 7” that features re-recorded You Are Beneath Me tracks featuring a female vocalist? Try me. Hand in an hour-plus double-disc record with nearly 40 minutes dedicated to an interview with a former adult actress? Try Me. Nothing is practical or predictable about Self Defense Family (even the "promotion" and release of this album was very Self Defense-like; releasing it online over a month before street date). The double entendre of a title like Try Me shouldn’t be lost on Self Defense Family fans, as the main focus of the record revolves around the hours-long discussions Kindlon had with adult actress Jeanna Fine, or Angelique. What started as just an idea for the album’s cover evolved into much more and the feel and direction of Try Me emerged from those conversations (only 38 minutes of those conversations are shared on the record, but we’ll get to that in a bit).

Musically, Try Me builds off the various 7” releases and splits over the past few years while continually throwing in new tricks and curveballs throughout. “Tithe Pig” begins Side A about a controlling man trying to keep this woman all for himself - the one track on Try Me that feels like a direct reply to the Angelique interviews. Words like “Do your makeup and exercise/Get made-up for only my eyes” flow over smooth guitar lines and only gets louder as Kindlon repeatedly speaks the word “tithe.” The volume gets pumped up a bit more on “Nail House Music,” which some SDF fans may compare to “All Fruit Is Ripe” and the groovier jams in SDF’s vast catalogue.

Kindlon has always noted that his lyrics express his point of view through the eyes of other people and tracks like the emotionally-draining “Turn The Fan On” and the deceivingly upbeat “Mistress Appears At Funeral” are prime examples. The former takes a calming approach towards a man slowly losing his mind while the latter has Caroline Corrigan lending her beautiful voice to the moving yet difficult subject of mourning the man you had an affair with. What I’ve always appreciated about Self Defense Family is the unique approach the collective takes to certain subjects, ideas, and events and how they can make it almost always relatable to the listener. “Apport Birds” has Kindlon reflects on losing a dear pet by way of how some people use religion to comfort themselves when they lose a loved one. Each song showcases just the right amount of background music to each tale, never drowning out the message Self Defense is putting across.

Some of Kindlon’s strongest work appears on side B of Try Me. He’s never had a filter on his opinions and viewpoints - Try Me is no different. “Aletta” is easily one of the best songs you’ll hear in 2014, containing some of my favorite lyrics in a long time - bitingly insulting and thought-provoking. Try Me constantly challenges the listener on how they consume music, life, culture. Infectious melodies are juxtaposed against the story of getting old and being left behind (“Fear of Poverty In Old Age”) while the emphatic “Weird Fingering” dwells on the fact that shit in life is unfair most of the time. And then there’s the ten minute final track “Dingo Fence” that begins with a discussion on how the word "cunt" should be used, only for it to be interchanged with “cocks” and “cops.” It’s the perfect follow-up to “Weird Fingering” (the song that precedes it) and interjecting a thought process that’s meant to shock and thrill and shake the listener out of his or her comfort level.

The ultimate journey for each of the nine recorded tracks are the two “Angelique” tracks. Kindlon gives the listeners a 38 minute look into the upbringing and pre-porn life of Jeanna Fine, ending right before her career in the adult film industry so that the message of “Angelique” doesn’t get lost amongst the sensitization that portion of her life would bring about. I’m not going to get to deep into what is said because 1) her story is not mine to speak on and 2) pre-conceived expectations or thoughts could tarnish one’s first listen. I will say that it’s one of the bravest, darkest, intense, and eye-opening accounts I’ve ever heard. It’s not something one will listen to often but something you need to hear at least once (an auditory Requiem for a Dream if you will).

Within the gatefold of Try Me is a short message written by Kindlon about what this record is about and how it came about. It’s a personal account about how he was influenced by Jeanna Fine, eventually turning into something much more than an adolescent infatuation. The foreword is concluded with the three simple words, “Enjoy or Don’t.” And that really encapsulates what Self Defense Family is all about. They don’t care about selling records or merch, they even loathe the idea of touring (as it takes away from time in SDF’s studio to record). Self Defense ultimately doesn’t give a fuck how their art is interpreted or consumed (Kindlon definitely won’t give two shits that this record is bound to be one of the most critically acclaimed records of 2014 or that I’m giving it a near-perfect score) - all that matters is that the art was put out into the world. It’s exhilarating, refreshing, and feels dangerous, undoubtedly leading to various unneeded ThoughtCatolog.com pieces about Self Defense Family and its practices.

Try Me won’t be the only thing Self Defense Family releases in 2014 but it may be the most important record released in 2014. It can’t be classified into one genre because various voices were present in the creation of Try Me - making it one of the most unique, reflective, darkly humorous, and brilliant records to grace ears in a while. You may never listen to Lungfish or anything else on the Dischord roster, but you should definitely experience what Try Me is offering. Enjoy or don’t.

9.5/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 20
11:14 PM on 01/07/14
#2
Chris Collum
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I like this record but I need to listen to it a whole lot more.
05:09 AM on 01/08/14
#3
SeanGather
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I haven't stopped listening to this since it went up on Spotify. And since seeing them support Touche Amore (and, through no fault of TA's, completely blow them out of the water) they've sharply risen from "respect and appreciate what they're doing" to "one of the most important bands in the world right now" for me.

Also - great review Drew. I reckon the one thing Pat would object to here would be your refusal to use the word "cunt", hah.
06:12 AM on 01/08/14
#4
screamoutmyname
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9.5 across the board. Nice.

EDIT: It is a really well-written review, I'm just not sure I agree with the rating.
07:39 AM on 01/08/14
#5
Drew Beringer
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I haven't stopped listening to this since it went up on Spotify. And since seeing them support Touche Amore (and, through no fault of TA's, completely blow them out of the water) they've sharply risen from "respect and appreciate what they're doing" to "one of the most important bands in the world right now" for me.

Also - great review Drew. I reckon the one thing Pat would object to here would be your refusal to use the word "cunt", hah.
my mom reads these reviews sometimes! haha
07:56 AM on 01/08/14
#6
SeanGather
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my mom reads these reviews sometimes! haha

"'Cocks' is really fucking problematic."
08:35 AM on 01/08/14
#7
absintheparty9
Step back. Evaluate. Recognize.
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Kick-ass review. I had no idea what I was getting into when I checked this out over the weekend. When I reached the first interview track, I was so confused and intrigued I had to stop everything else I was doing and just sit down and give it all my attention. Kinda hard to describe in words how it made me feel.
I'll definitely be spending more time with this bad boy in the coming weeks.
08:37 AM on 01/08/14
#8
circletheworld
Old Fears New Frontiers
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Deathwish always digitally releases albums before physical copies are shipped. So this isn't really a Self Defense only thing.
11:58 AM on 01/08/14
#9
Vance Mook
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Wow, very very excited to get ahold of this. I'll have to check out the End of the Year full-length as well, as the only thing I've heard from them (and I totally fell in love with it) was their song on the Run For Cover comp. These are the kinds of reviews that challenge me as a writer every day. Fantastic job Drew.
12:03 PM on 01/08/14
Drew Beringer
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Deathwish always digitally releases albums before physical copies are shipped. So this isn't really a Self Defense only thing.
But they aren't put on spotify at the same time usually
12:07 PM on 01/08/14
thisisntworking
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There's been releases/shows without Pat on them before, just sayin'.

This record rules.
12:07 PM on 01/08/14
circletheworld
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But they aren't put on spotify at the same time usually
ok... are you sure that isn't just a lapse on Spotify's part?
12:14 PM on 01/08/14
Drew Beringer
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There's been releases/shows without Pat on them before, just sayin'.

This record rules.
you're right - I don't know why I thought otherwise
12:14 PM on 01/08/14
Drew Beringer
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ok... are you sure that isn't just a lapse on Spotify's part?
nah I don't think it was.
05:19 PM on 01/08/14
theotheryabs
There's a Melody in Everything
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This album is fucking out there but I love it
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