Algiers are a politically conscious indie trio who combine elements of post-punk and no wave with raw blues, gospel, and even early industrial music. Their self-titled 2015 debut on Matador garnered positive notice from the U.S and across Europe. Some critics labeled their sound "dystopian soul." Their second long-player, The Underside of Power, was produced by Portishead's Adrian Utley in 2017. They are based in New York City and London.
The band came together in 2009 in Atlanta when guitarist Lee Tesche and bassist Ryan Mahan, both members of the city's thriving underground rock and noise scenes, encountered vocalist and guitarist Franklin James Fisher, whose own musical roots were in the grand black gospel tradition of the Deep South, the soul-blues of Nina Simone, and angular funk. All of Algiers' members play percussion and keyboards, and do drum programming. Their songs actively engage in cultural critique by commenting on traditions in political, social, and religious realms.
The trio began rehearsing and playing shows together, combining their various influences and coming up with a hybrid sound of their own that also included dub, punk, and Afro-funk. Though all three went to various schools overseas, they stayed in touch via email, and worked together over the internet to discuss music, influences, and politics. Algiers' first single, "Blood," was recorded in studios in London and New York, and released in 2012 in a limited pressing of 500 copies. It sold out quickly and the band drew critical notice for their high-energy live performances as well as their unique hybrid sound. A second single, "Claudette," was tracked over the next couple of years and appeared in 2013. Matador discovered the band through their website and signed them in January of 2014. In April, Algiers went to work on their debut full-length. Mahan and Tesche lived in London, and Fischer resided in New York. He traveled to the U.K., and with British producer and engineer Tom Morris, the trio completed the set at 4AD's studios. The self-titled album included newly recorded versions of their first two singles; it was advanced by the tracks "But She Was Not Flying" and "Black Eunuch." The completed album was issued in June 2015.
After the Algiers record received universal critical acclaim, the band toured relentlessly with new drummer Matt Tong added to their ranks, encountering not only fans but establishing deep connections with musicians across the spectrum, all of whom came in handy as the group set to work on their second album amidst the cross-continental tumult of the Brexit vote in the U.K. and the U.S. election of Donald Trump. Mahan explained: "This album was recorded in a political environment that collapses the late-'70s economic crisis and the looming onslaught of arch-conservative neoliberalism, via Thatcher and Reagan, into the late 1930s, a world riven by fascist nationalism and white power fantasies in the U.S. and abroad." Entitled The Underside of Power, the set was produced by Adrian Utley and Ali Chant of Portishead and mixed by Randall Dunn (Sunn O)))), with post-production from Ben Greenberg (the Men, Hubble). The advance title-track single and video were issued in April 2017, with the full-length following in June.
Algiers continued to tour the world over the next couple years. They debuted a web installation project in mid-2019 called thereisnoyear, which featured the audiovisual piece "Can the Sub_Bass Speak?" Later in the year, the tracks "Dispossession" and "Void" preceded the group's third album, There Is No Year. Arriving in January 2020, the record was produced by Dunn and Greenberg, and featured guest spots by saxophonist Skerik and backing vocals by LaToya Kent, Kyle Kidd, and Lou the Dog. ~ Thom Jurek