Album Reviews: Commanders — Odd Disasters

  • 30

Witching Hour: Here Lies Man, w/ Younger, Commanders

Gabe’s — Friday, Oct. 12 at 9 p.m.


Odd Disasters

The Commanders’ newest EP, Odd Disasters, is somehow simultaneously a tight, clean collection of succinct musical ideas and a vast, sprawling commentary on the current state of the human condition and how we got here.

Odd Disasters takes all of the great musical impulses behind the band’s first release, Stooges, Stones and Spacemen, and clarifies them, creating tracks that are more confident and thus more adventurous. Like on their debut, the Commanders wear their influences on their sleeve, but their signature sound is becoming ever more distinct.

Much of the weight of it again rests on Chris Burns’ attention-demanding vocals. But Daniel Davis’ drumming (especially on mid-album tune “Weird People”) and Shawn Haigwood’s exploratory guitar are also crucial in that development. Track five, “Eye for an Eye,” is the stand-out in this respect. Its catchy hook doesn’t hurt, but its real value is the way that it serves as a distillation of the Commanders’ abilities, growth and integration as a band.

Album opener “Right Here Is Where We Are” is a spaced out trip of a track that sets the stage lyrically for the self-conscious investigation into what, exactly, the human race is playing at — call it the philosophical spawn of New York Dolls and Mudhoney, if both suddenly started reading a shit-ton of Heinlein.

Odd Disasters continues on like this, looking through a skewed, yet illuminating, lens at the happy accident of existence. It traces a vision of humanity through ever-more recent textual references (“Primal man was out hunting / Gathering food for the tribe” in “Get On Board,” an alien abduction tale at the second slot, and track three, “Heathen Summer,” gives “Let’s get drunk at the Resurrection, Until We Bleedin’ Wine”) before landing on final track “Rituals of a Hollywood Sex Cult,” which calls out modernity while framing it in an ancient context — we haven’t really changed that much, it seems to say.

Odd Disasters supports that trajectory musically as well. Track one, for instance, is the kind of spiralling psychedelia that usually closes an album — but it works as an opener when the storytelling deliberately involves time circling back in on itself.

This EP is perfect for diving into harsh autumn contemplations of meaning and mortality, but by gods does it demand that we have a lot of fun doing it.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 251.

  • 30
Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV »


The Iowa City Human Rights Commission needs you!

Apply Today

@ICHumanRights »


Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.


$10/mo or $120/year
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.


$20/mo or $240/year
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.


$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW) connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.

Coralville Public Library Online Summer Reading Programs

For ages 0-99+