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Honestly crazed

The thrashgrass of Days N Daze is all whirlwind catharsis

Houston quartet Days N Daze confront failure and a doomed world with a smile. Photo credit: Facebook

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Folk and punk music have long had a dalliance with one another, existing on a parallel line that encourages musicians to explore their various extremes. It's no secret that the two genres share many of the same values, down to their stripped-down sounds, emphasis on personal narratives, and frequent explorations of political subject matter. It's now become something of an in joke, the way that aging punk rockers tend to ditch electric guitars for acoustic ones, their familiar countercultural attitude no more hampered by a lack of distortion.

The list of bands that have married these two styles is long and varied, with some acts more faithful to traditional folk instrumentation than others. While the Pogues mixed Celtic conventions with barroom debauchery, for instance, Andrew Jackson Jihad (now known as AJJ) subverted dusty Americana, highlighting the hypocrisies of both U.S. patriotism and singer-songwriter angst. Days N Daze, meanwhile, approach the folk-punk singularity from a different angle: their music, self-described "thrashgrass," is shot through with piss and vinegar, starting things off at a 10 and never taking a breather.

Based out of Houston, the Texas-based quartet produces a curious blend of hardcore, bluegrass, and the odd flourish of ska. Made up of Jesse Sendejas, Whitney Flynn, Geoff Bell and Meg Gan, Days N Daze is a band that's built on the broadside of a speeding bullet, all crazed momentum and ferociously strummed guitars that pass by in a dizzying blur. With Sendejas and Flynn often sharing belligerent vocal duties -- to say nothing of the gang of rabble-rousers shouting along in the background -- Days N Daze can sound like a jamboree that has spun wildly out of control, with overturned cars and errant fires left blazing on the outskirts.

The band has found success ever since their formation in 2008, with their 2016 LP CRUSTFALL being perhaps their most purely distilled release yet, though it contains some winking touches that suggest an irreverent self-awareness. "Saturday Night Palsy," for example, ends with a sample taken from the podcast Harmontown, featuring controversial writer Dan Harmon saying, "I went a little overboard with the honesty, tonight. It's a little self-destructive." With the next song's opening lyrics being, "All my heroes are human, and my gods are all dead," it's hard not to pick up a bit of a mission statement with the album -- that human failure in the face of an overwhelming world can sometimes be our truest shared experience.

"Wholesale Failure" is the album's most direct exploration of these themes, of living an imperfect life, of facing an everyday feeling of doom and dread, of wanting to embrace writer's block (because writing means something bad is going down), and of tackling all of these obstacles with the minimally optimistic viewpoint that we might as well try to enjoy the time we have. It's not the sunniest of outlooks, to be sure, but Days N Daze foster a pragmatic stance that, while everything may be terrible, our lives don't necessarily have to be. If we can confront these hard truths with music as spirited and visceral as what Days N Daze have to offer, then it becomes easier to muddle through somehow. Commiserating with pessimists can sometimes, counterintuitively, be the more enriching way to heal.

Days N Daze share with AJJ the freeing catharsis that comes with being unflinchingly honest, all wrapped up in a prickly package of unbridled, whirlwind energy. Their live shows are bound to tear down whatever room they're in, leaving physically and emotionally spent attendees in their wake. They're the shot of adrenaline we desperately need before fall plunges us into darkness.

Days N Daze, w/ Geography, Overhill Lane, the Window Smashing Job Creators, 6 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 24, all ages, donations encouraged, Obsidian, 414 4th Ave. E., Olympia, 360.890.4425, obsidianolympia.com

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