One of the world’s most prolific DIY advocates and ambassadors of the Florida hardcore punk scene, Damien Moyal (ex AS FRIENDS RUST, CULTURE, ON BODIES, MORNING AGAIN, SHAI HULUD) and his newest work, “Charm Offensive”, has been hailed by many as a must-listen, dubbed the wizardry of dark, moody, yet tender art, the mastery of well-balanced multi-style arrangements, and recognized as a thrilling ride into the unknown. Well, all of this and much more flattering are true, so we’ve decided to take a moment to once again acknowledge this amazing record with some insightful first-hand commentary from Damien himself!
Not only has Damien (aka DAMIEN DONE) earned endorsements from hardcore punk community around the world, but what he accomplishes with his new incarnation born 2 years ago isn’t just powerful storytelling through minimalism, or strong, atmospheric poeticism, but a deep commitment to nodding to his numerous inspirations from the past. On “Charm Offensive”, Damien’s songwriting is masterful, with some new compositions and unique moods and his most comprehensive musical statement yet made. The record and its accompanying music videos deliver a sensory immersive journey that will Damien’s unique art style and charisma. “Charm Offensive” delivers, point by point, on everything you could want from an experimental, moody rock album.
Much like another infream. The arresting mixture of art rock, new wave, doom rock, and post-punk spans styles and genres to create a surprisingly cohesive and, well, charming collection. The record perfectly conjures up a lush, gloomy atmosphere; however, Damien Done’s first release is impeccably melodic and addictive. Charm Offensive is truly a treat for fans of Nick Cave, King Dude, and the darker side of new wave. / New Noise Magazine
“Charm Offensive” – track by track commentary by Damien Moyal:
The Freeze (Intro)
We tend to subject ourselves to people and things that are bad for us, and this song is essentially an invitation to enter into a relationship with someone who’s toxic: someone whose love is oppressive and stifling, or perhaps lacking entirely. The narrator is extending a hand and implying partnership and security, but that hand is cold and poisonous. I liked it as an opening track because it’s spacious and foreboding, but also has sort of a big, marching band kind of swing to it. I think it sets a nice, false expectation for the album, and certainly for the next track to burst in.
The first of many tracks on the album that explore voyeurism and invasion, this song is about a woman who’s taken a shine to a guy in her apartment building, and has found a way to creep in while he sleeps to watch him and to enjoy his space and his personal affects. She does this often – several times per night, in fact – and he’s none the wiser. There’s nothing malicious in her actions, but it’s invasive nonetheless, and in a strange way kind of satisfying (even for the listener, maybe) for her to have that power. I really love the droning, repetitive mood of this one. It’s energetic and sleazy, but also quite restrained and tempered.
When You Left Home
This song was originally written around 2005, and I sat on the demo until 2016, at which point I recorded a second demo version. I’m thrilled to have finally found a home for it, and I absolutely love how it turned out and how it works in the album as a whole. A lot of my earlier material had these sort of doom/grunge leanings, and you can tell this was written during that time. The song is about somebody who gets out there into the real world, but rather than celebrating their new found freedom and opportunity, is consumed by self-doubt and the feeling that they’re just not very good at living.
The Lord Fox
Toward the end of the recording, I realized I sort of hated one of the songs. In a panic I sat down to write something new, and The Lord Fox is what I came up with. Now it’s one of my favorite songs on the album. The song is about a dejected wife who knows about her husband’s constant strayiong and philandering and is falling apart. With no real way of getting him to stay home and focus on her, she decides to poison him. It’s not as much of an “If I can’t have him nobody can” type of murder as it is “If this goes on much longer it will destroy me.” She kills him to save herself – an act committed not out of vengeance, but out of absolute, crushing sadness.
“Curious Thing” is presented by a man who’s been sneaking around his wife to do something terrible. Unlike “The Lord Fox,” this man is conflicted by what he does. We’re never sure if he’s indulging some compulsion or if he’s maybe been forced into something insidious by others (there’s a thread of blackmail throughout the album), but he’s pretty torn up about it and is having trouble reconciling these activities with his very genuine love for his woman. What’s more is that she knows something is up, and has started following him at night to see what’s been up to. He knows that she’s doing this, and he knows that — once discovered — he runs the risk of losing her. So, he invites her to see for herself.
Things Are Going Great (Just You Wait)
About how one should always live in constant fear of losing everything, because comfort, happiness and stability are delicate things that can shatter in seconds, unexpectedly, perhaps never to return. I’m just being practical here.
Angels Overlooking Him
I like word play, and loved the stark contrast of one person being looked over by angels while another is entirely overlooked by them, and developed that concept into a tale of class disparity, where a poor working class kid is in love with a wealthy girl, who’s living a very easy, charmed life (“She got a back yard made of water. He got a front yard filled with cars.”) They live in different worlds, and her father is powerful enough to send some muscle to try and scare him away from his daughter. He doesn’t heed the warnings, and it’s not until the end that we come to realize exactly how one-sided the relationship was. It’s almost got a 50s, kind of doowop vibe on the choruses, and overall a touch of Americana, which helps the storyline along.
Who’s Gonna Believe You?
Someone passing through a small town witnesses a crime (we never know what, exactly) and comes to realize that this crime involves, and is being covered up by, local law enforcement. He is told in no uncertain terms that any attempts to expose those involved are useless, because those involved own the entire town. It’s about corruption and witness suppression.
The Good Book
In some quiet, rural southern town, a devout old man is dying of a brain tumor and accompanying arachnoid cyst. He’s alone because he drove his son off years ago for not believing. His world view is narrow, and he boasts about how the only book he’s ever read is the bible, and how he only left his small town once, and hated it.
Something On You
I really like this one, and wanted to close the album in a similar way that it opened, with a track that’s more experimental and subdued. I also wanted to end it with another unresolved storyline, because I’m a dick. The song is about blackmail, sung from the perpective of the blackmailer, who is threatening to expose somebody with an incriminating video. The blackmailer isn’t after money, but rather the ability to control this person. It’s one of several piano-driven songs on the album (along with “The Freeze” and “Things Are Going Great (Just You Wait)”) and has a very simple, minimalist tick-tock programmed beat that is intended to drive home the notion that time is running out for the person being blackmailed. The entire song came to me while in a work meeting, and because I couldn’t hum into my phone, I got a sheet of paper and drew the music with a series of up and down arrows denoting piano chords, and dots indicating the beat. Not super efficient, but it froze the idea just long enough for me to get home that day and record it.