agitproper thom daughertyThom Daugherty steps out of the shadows and establishes himself as a solo artist with appropriate swagger on his debut EP, Agitproper

Thom Daugherty
5 tracks 19:13

Thom Daugherty's rock and roll pedigree is strong, being a former member of The Elms, a group that successfully merged pop, classic rock, and Americana for over a decade. Slightly in the shadow of charismatic front-man, Owen Thomas, and playing counterpart to the power of Chris Thomas' thundering drum attack, Thom's stinging blues-based solos and richly-textured chord work added a cutting edge and an unmistakable authenticity to the Indiana-based band. To the dismay of many, The Elms disbanded in 2010 – the good news is that Thom Daugherty now gets to step out of the shadows and establish himself as a solo artist, which he does with appropriate swagger and power with his debut EP, Agitproper.

Agitproper is a rock and roll record. Make no mistake about that. The music is explosive, blues-based rock and roll, influenced by the classic rock era but with the vibrancy, energy, and excitement of post-punk. Daugherty's guitar makes distortion and dissonance a beautiful thing – mercilessly ringing painful, wailing sounds  from the neck of the instrument, like a good rock 'n roller should. Doing double-duty on solid, sure-footed bass (and Hammond B3 on the gospelly parts of "Keep Movin"), Daugherty creates a hard driving wall of visceral sound, aided by former band-mate Chris Thomas, who commands a mighty strong pocket on the drums.

Of course, stepping up to the microphone after a decade of backing up one of the best rock/pop singers in the business might be an intimidating task, but on Agitproper Daugherty proves that he's a formidable lead vocalist himself. Not timid or cautious, he launches into the vocal role with command and at least a little bit of sass – listen to the way he turns the word 'hands' into the three-syllable 'hay-yee-ands' on "You Got the Blood of an Innocent Man on Your Hands." He knows how to strut his stuff...

Written by Daugherty, the songs are well crafted and tend to crusade a bit, lyrically, since the writer obviously has a lot to say about our current state of affairs. Some passages are more obvious than others ("He was walking after dark through my neighborhood, And I could tell by his clothes he was up to no good. There was no time to waste, I shot him down, 'Cos there's no time to think when you're Standing Your Ground"), some are more obscure and general, and I still don't quite get "Pictures of Girls Firing Guns" - maybe I missed something.... One can either read into them or not, depending upon how much you might agree or disagree with a particular issue - or, you can just enjoy the music. 

One thing that we can all agree on is that this is the stuff that rock and roll is made of. When I hear Thom play I think of Robin Trower, Stevie Ray and others in that powerful guitar brotherhood. The music explodes from the speakers from the first note – and by the time we get to the more structurally complex "Keep Moving," Daugherty proves that he can add pop, gospel and folk into that bluesy rock mix to produce some very memorable tracks, indeed – and Thom Daugherty suddenly becomes a more obvious piece of the puzzle that made The Elms great.

They say mighty oaks from little acorns grow – maybe this is what grows from mighty Elms.
You can buy Agitproper at iTunes and you can listen at

Bert Saraco

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