Recently, I’ve been thinking about my favourite bands of all time, and somewhere near the top, and creeping ever upwards, are Lungfish. Part of the Dischord label stable of Washington/Baltimore hardcore bands, their music seems to have outlasted almost all their stablemates. Perhaps that’s because it’s always had a tangible spark of originality, and because the band members are exceptionally talented individuals.
I really like their late flowering 'Love Is Love' (2003) album but my firm favourite is their second release, 'Talking Songs For Walking' from 1992. Best enjoyed as the made-for vinyl 10 song original, although also released together with their first album,
From the opening track 'Friend To Friend In Endtime' you know you’re in for something special and other standout tracks like 'Kissing' and 'Non Dual Bliss' reinforce the sense that this is not a typical hardcore band, with its 'White Light/White Heat' era Velvet Underground influences and super-articulate lyrics.
Vocalist Daniel Higgs was a ferocious spectacle live, with his barnstorming preacher looks and attitude, and a Lungfish gig was always intense. Higgs has since developed even further his mystical leanings and really is a preacher these days, when he’s not recording and performing jaw harp improvisations. But importantly he can also sing and 'Talking Songs for Walking' shows him at the top of his game.
The rest of the band is terrific too. Asa Osborne is a wonderfully articulate guitarist and Mitchell Feldstein a notable drummer. All three of their bass players (Sean Meadows, John Chriest and Nathan Bell) have also been excellent.
So I find myself increasingly drawn to Lungfish, and this album in particular because it really stands the test of time. Their songs are great stories, thrillingly told, and there are few more visceral experiences than listening to album closer ‘Put Your Hand in My Hand’ and considering its insistent four line lyric interspersed with muscular musical workouts. Yes, I think when Daniel Higgs says "look me in the eye when you’re talking to me" then you’d be well advised to pay attention.
'Walking Songs For Talking' was re-issued in September 2012, for more info and to purchase, head to dischord.com.