By Dave Pehling
OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Though the members behind unique modern rock outfit Algiers have been working together for nearly a decade, the group has roots that go back even further. Guitarist Lee Tesche and bassist Ryan Mahan were childhood friends and had already played in a number Atlanta bands since their teens when singer/multi-instrumentalist and friend Franklin James Fischer became a regular fixture at their live shows in the late 2000s.
The trio began collaborating, crafting a sound that touched on the synth-powered proto-industrial mimimalism of Suicide, the brooding intensity of Nick Cave’s bands the Birthday Party and the Bad Seeds and the dub-influenced experimentation of PIL touched with Motown soul. Algiers aired it’s first sampling of gospel-soul-meets-post-punk-ferocity in 2012 with the release of the single “Blood” on Atlanta-based label Double Phantom Records.
With Fischer’s soulful voice and impassioned delivery taking center stage amid soundscapes that mixed howling guitars, industrial/hip-hop beats and ghostly vocal samples, the single attracted the attention of indie powerhouse Matador Records. The band’s self-titled debut was released in the summer of 2015, dazzling reviewers and fans with its kaleidoscopic swirl of influences and feverish social commentary that had some likening the group to a post-punk version of Public Enemy.
The group would bring on former Bloc Party drummer Matt Tong before heading out on the road to promote the album, opening for modern post-punk outfit Interpol before bringing their savage, cathartic live shows to clubs on both sides of the Atlantic on their first headlining tour.
The group would maintain a busy schedule of live dates at European festivals as it began recording its sophomore album last year. Working with Bristol-based Portishead member Adrian Utley as producer, the band members began piecing together their disparate ideas into new songs, all informed the rising political and racial tensions in post-Trump U.S. and post-Brexit England.
The resulting album if anything elevates the spirited intensity and fervor of the band’s first album. Songs like “Walk Like a Panther” (which samples a speech by slain Black Panther activist Fred Hampton) and the stomping title track “The Underside of Power” find Algiers distilling uneasiness over our increasingly dystopian present into a fiery, cathartic soundtrack.
Fresh from a European stadium tour opening for massively popular synth-rockers Depeche Mode, the band brings it’s new tunes back to the Bay Area Monday night, headlining a Noise Pop produced show at the Starlight Social Club in Oakland. Moses Archulata, the drummer and co-founder of uplifting indie-rock favorites Deerhunter, opens the evening with his atmospheric solo project Moon Diagrams. Archuleta will play songs the project’s debut album Lifetime of Love set to be released via the Geographic North imprint in the U.S. and on the Sonic Cathedral label in the U.K. and Europe.
Monday, July 17, 8 p.m.
Starline Social Club