Band/Artist Profile

Obscure Artists: Douglas Für

Douglas Für, based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, presents one of the most compellingly raw and unhinged folk-punk sounds in the genre.

A former member of anarchist folk punk band Ramshackle Glory, Für is no stranger to neurotic rhythms and irreverent lyrics. With a solo career spanning between July of 2015 and August of 2016, Für plumbs the depths of his psyche to produce a curio collection of sounds across three solo albums.


Für’s three albums, the dried up rivers will be the mass graves of tomorrow, Curses and Spells of Protection and Death Has 1000 Ears illustrate a strange sort of continuity in his independent work.

The jagged, lilting melodies of his first album carry into the energy of his second, where the only marked difference in sound is the album’s elevated production quality.

However, where the dried up rivers will be the mass graves of tomorrow functions well as a standalone project, Für’s last two albums are directly connected.

Both share the songs “Curses” and “Sugar on Your Teeth,” though with distinctly different sounds. Curses and Spells of Protection presents a slower, almost sluggish narrative. 

In “Curses,” Für’s rust-tinged vocals seem to snag upon the edges of the accompaniment, an assortment of string instruments whose melodies seem to churn as the song progresses.

Conversely, “Sugar on Your Teeth” is frantic, maddened and markedly discordant. 

While the lyrics to “Curses” and “Sugar on Your Teeth” are the same in Death Has 1000 Ears, the delivery is completely different.

With a cleaner, clearer production quality, the album lacks the rugged edge of its predecessors. The tone is strongly jovial throughout with tinges of theatricism, a strong incovation of classic barroom ballads.

“Curses” is virtually unrecognizable between the two albums, with Death Has 1000 Ears presenting the song with a faster tempo and more lyrical delivery.

The same can be said of “Sugar on Your Teeth,” which presents a far tamer iteration of its original source material. 

Cover for the album the dried up rivers will be the mass graves of tomorrow

Bad on Purpose

All the same, the entirety of Für’s work embodies a uniquely savage sound.

And by all technicalities, the music is bad. The vocals are coarse, the instruments often sharp or wailing. With the exception of Death Has 1000 Ears, the production quality is starkly lo-fi.

But therein lies what makes Für’s music so compelling. The self-made feel of Für’s work perfectly captures the core of the folk punk movement. His experimentation with the energy of classic folk sounds and the roughness of punk gives way to a strange, beautiful offspring.

His chaotic, discordant sounds express the basest of human sensations: rage, grief, passion and despair. He captures ultimate catharsis in what can only be accurately labeled as purposeful cacophony.

Douglas Für’s music is but a means of expression channeled through folk punk, a movement solidified in unyielding self-expression and imbued with a long history of tumult and resilience.

For fans of AJJ, or those who simply enjoy “bad” music, I cannot recommend Douglas Für enough. 

Recommended Songs: 

  • “Dead Twin,” “Sugar on Your Teeth” and “Shallow Cut” from Death Has 1000 Ears 
  • “the phantom wants to know” and “the phantom speaks” from Curses and Spells of Protection (ultimate favorites)
  • “cold steel” and “o’ nothing” from  the dried up rivers will be the mass graves of tomorrow
Music Education

Live From the Clink: Bad Brains and “Sacred Love”

I Against I

While Bad Brains’s debut studio album, aptly titled “Bad Brains,” is indisputably iconic, “I Against I” possesses a special kind of charm.

Bad Brains, considered among hardcore punk’s original pioneers, released “I Against I” in November of 1986.

Despite the band’s original background in jazz fusion, the album presents a riveting blend of various musical elements including funk, alternative metal, rock and hardcore punk.

Consisting of ten songs, “I Against I” traverses a broad scope of musical sensations.

Unlike “Bad Brains” or the band’s demo album “Black Dots“, each song in “I Against I” has a unique feel, making for a truly dynamic listening experience.

The cover of Bad Brains's album, I Against I
Cover of Bad Brains’s third album, I Against I

“Sacred Love,” the album’s eighth song, is particularly special. Unlike the album’s other tracks, “Sacred Love” has strikingly lo-fi vocals. The song sounds like a fuzzy, crackly voicemail, the lyrics barely comprehensible.

Upon first hearing “Sacred Love,” I assumed the audio effects were a stylistic choice. However, further research revealed the truth.

The Recording of “Sacred Love”

According to testimonies from the album’s producer, Ron St. Germain and Anthony Countey, the band’s long-time manager, “Sacred Love” was performed from a D.C. correctional facility.

An excerpt of an interview from Howie Abrams and James Lathos’s novel, “Finding Joseph I: An Oral History of H.R. From Bad Brains” details the circumstances which led to the song’s unorthodox recording:

Shortly before Bad Brains was set to record I Against I, D.C. law enforcement arrested lead singer H.R. (short for Human Rights) for marijuana distribution.

According to St. Germain, the band successfully recorded nearly all of the songs in I Against I’s discography before H.R. was due to enter jail.

All songs, that is, but “Sacred Love.”

With an unfinished album and an incarcerated vocalist, Germain and Countey had to improvise.

In what St. Germain referred to as a “communal effort,” the band organized for H.R. to perform “Sacred Love” through a collect call at the jailhouse.

The setup for the recording was makeshift at best. When the initial plan to facilitate a direct patch from the phone to the recorder failed, St. Germain undertook a more DIY-style approach.

According to St. Germain, he ended up taping an Auratone monitor to an analog telephone and swaddling both in a sound blanket.

In the studio, a second phone connected H.R. directly to the rest of the band. On that phone, St. Germain taped a microphone over the receiver.

The whole process took less than two hours. The result?

Listen for yourself.

– J