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Proper Nouns share their new “Known Unknowns” video & announce debut LP via Austin Town Hall; Feel Free is due 4/23

Feel Free is due 4/23 via Phone Booth Records
pre-order the LP here

WATCH: “Known Unknowns” – 
YouTube / Austin Town Hall / Bandcamp

Today Proper Nouns are sharing their lead single/video “Known Unknowns” and announcing their debut LP, Feel Free, via Austin Town Hall. Check out the premiere here. Proper Nouns’ debut, Feel Free, is due out on April 23rd, 2021 via Phone Booth Records.

Regarding the track, bandleader Spencer Compton stated that the song is “an overt anti-war song about being simultaneously disillusioned and captivated by red/blue color lines in US politics. The video (by Aidan Spann) runs through familiar footage of never-ending presidential talking head endorsements for the newest military ‘intervention’ to ‘spread democracy’ for ‘US national interest’

As a teenager, Proper Nouns singer/guitarist Spencer Compton was diagnosed with an unusual brain lesion – and briefly became a medical curiosity. Unsure how to treat the novel (but benign) condition, his doctors did what seemed obvious to them: they hustled him into unnecessary surgery. Its vaguely preventative goal failed; afterwards, he was left with epilepsy, memory loss and a second surgery. But, for Compton, it’s the situation’s odd inevitability that continues to haunt. “It was a weird kind of malpractice,” he says. “Like an ideological malpractice through medical health washing – surgeons saying, between the lines, ‘Sure, there’s no symptom to treat, but this is what we do.’ An institutional scam.”

That frustration with groupthink forms the backbone of Proper Nouns’ debut LP, Feel Free (Phone Booth Records). Engineered and mixed by J. Robbins (Against Me!, Two-Inch Astronaut) and mastered by Jonathan Schenke (Parquet Courts, Snail Mail), the album finds the Baltimore-based Compton exploring not just his medical disaster, but the kinds of ideological “common sense” that allowed such blasé violence and disconnect to prevail. On tracks like first single “Known Unknowns,” “Redeeming Qualities,” “Emma,” and “Situation Undone,” he takes neoliberal tendencies to task, noting a leftist tendency towards soft- power blind spots; elsewhere, he mourns the limits of freedom in late capitalism (“Posteverything,” “Feel Free”). Coming on like Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside on a frenetic Minutemen kick – or, perhaps, Glenn Tilbrook after a long night of Deleuze and Guattari – Compton runs each song like a sharp, witty poli sci salon, coating complex ideas in punk energy and power pop candyfloss. On Feel Free, he aims his heady songs at the gut, letting the personal and the political swing in unison.

Still, at its heart, Feel Free is the sound of Compton in mid-appraisal, attempting to make sense of a world where ideological “isms” aren’t just lazy shorthand – they can be weaponized. Many tracks dig into his invisible disabilities, pondering both symptoms (“Nowhereland,” “Y2K”) and social fallout (“Fear to Care,” “Isms”). But, for Compton, the point is that these private matters exist in the same world as his other concerns; the macro affects the micro, and vice-versa. He points to the double entendre of the album’s title: “It’s ‘feel free’ as in don’t let the world eat you alive, but also as in the cynical neoliberal mantra. In other words, nice freedom if you can get it.”

Proper Nouns
Feel Free
(Phone Booth Records)
Street Date: April 23, 2021

Track List:

1. Known Unknowns
2. Feel Free
3. Situation Undone
4. Emma
5. Borrowing from the Future
6. Twenty Teen
7. Terror by the Book
8. Redeeming Qualities
9. Nowhereland
10. Y2K
11. Fear to Care
12. Post-Everything
13. West of the Hills
14. Isms