Protomartyr, with Ned Garthe Explosion, Thursday, March 15, 8 p.m., Denver, globehall.com.
ith enough diatonic dissonance to ward off complacency — as well as enough post-punk poetics to enrapture fans of The Fall, Nick Cave and Mission of Burma — Detroit’s Protomartyr are no longer one of this decade’s best-kept secrets. The group, whose name refers to those who are canonized after being the first to die for a cause, released its fourth album Relatives in Descent
last September, sparking their ascension from small club act to international headliners. It’s not difficult to see why. On the song “A Private Understanding,” Joe Casey’s caustically declamatory vocals prevent references to Heraclitus the Obscure and Flint’s poisoned drinking water from coming across as too high-minded or didactic. Midway through the track, Protomartyr abandon traditional rock conventions with an irresistibly beguiling coda in which Casey endlessly chants “she’s just trying to reach you” as guitarist Achim Raschka triangulates from distorted arpeggiations and three-chord respites to window-shattering power chords. By album’s end, you can’t help but wonder why more bands don’t do this. Most likely because they can’t.