Album Review: Thom Daugherty - "Agitproper" 

Dropped in the middle of "Agitproper", the unabashedly neo-retro solo EP from former Elms guitarslinger Thom Daugherty, is a song and performance that gives reason to like rest of the record.

"You Got the Blood of an Innocent Man on Your Hands" is packed with Daugherty's swaggering, stinging leads and distorted-yet-melodic chord crunches. He rips through the record's five-string piece de resistance, which includes a mid-song rip-your-soul, grinding and dirty guitar duel between the right and left speakers, aided by guest Tyler Berkum's guitar solo on the left channel. The performance serves as a primer for the magic that Daugherty makes with is guitars.

Thom Daugherty
  • Thom Daugherty
Throughout the album, Daugherty takes his five songs, and uses them to declare it's his time to turn the amps up really loud, and stake claim as a go-to guy - for both guitar playing and production.

"Pictures of Girls Firing Guns", is a sugar-soaked highlight: a crashing backbeat and the power-pop riff of the year. It is a candy-covered guitar-drenched rocker with enough sweetness to recall primo Badfinger. And the lyrics? You decide what the hell they really mean. I'm going to hit replay, and listen again to how the bubblegum-with-spider eggs guitars and double-tracked vocals sound.

Elsewhere, the opener, "Something's Missing" is Foo Fighters thrash, more Z103 than WTTS, heavy and aggressive.

"Solidarity (Rise Up) echoes mid-career Elms rock, with Daugherty's vocals channeling his version of Elms singer (and current solo artist) Owen Thomas. Again, fat guitar chords and Elms drummer Chris Thomas' groove-with-thunder percussion pushes the song's urgency. Sounds like it could have been cut in 1977.

Lyrically, it is a record seemingly trying to understand how those who make mistakes and other choices can continue to live with themselves, and what we can do to live with ourselves amidst the noise. And it is the rock and roll music that makes it all go down nicely.

"Keep Moving" closes the set, jumping from a keyboard intro into guitars into an acoustic "Shooting Star" - sounding Bad Company verse, before eventually morphing into gospel. Mostly a narrative story of "a leader" (presumably about President Obama in the first verse, but that's a guess) who is the target of others, "Keep Moving" morphs into a call to all to follow your own vision, exalted by those gospel background singers.

Nicely done, Mr. Daugherty. You rock.


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Rob Nichols

Rob Nichols

A music writer for more than 30 years, Rob began as a rock radio jock at age 17. Born in central Indiana, Rob moved north and spent his college years in Hillsdale, Michigan. That meant traveling to Detroit for all the good rock shows, and explains his affinity for Seger, the J. Geils Band, and Mitch Ryder. He's... more

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