Priests Credit: Audrey Melton

Early on, as with their 2012 seven-inch “Radiation” b/w “Personal Planes,” D.C.’s Priests were propelled by the sheer will to be a raging mass of hell and punk protest. Vocalist Katie Alice Greer writhes and grits her teeth over stiff, stripped-away rhythms and discordant, busted guitar lines that pretend melody before being fed into a baler, shredding any semblance of it. The tracks are all guts and nerve, each threatening to fracture under its own tension like a pane of spider-webbing glass. The foursome’s awesome debut LP, Nothing Feels Natural (Sister Polygon), retains that fire—while shoveling in a few heaps of coal to boot. The hard-nosed, powerhouse opener, “Appropriate,” chugs along with Greer as she leads its bare rhythm toward a devolving mess of noise and chaos. It quickly recalibrates and rapidly builds to a crescendo that’s diced by sax skronk and flailing drums. Not only a statement of defiance, the album’s longest track jars you into coherence prior to Priests settling into their melodic freak-surf riffs and more tempered introspection (“JJ” and “Nicki”). Poetic in its discontent and disenchantment with the American dream—up to and through the spoken-word angle on “No Big Bang”—Nothing Feels Natural is never painfully bleak or dismal even though it comes from a socially conscious and activist-aware D.C. punk band in a very uncertain (and uncharted) era in which socially conscious and activist-aware punk bands are hyperfocused on exactly D.C.   v