ALBUM: Bodega – ‘Broken Equipment’

Sardonic New York art-punk collective BODEGA have an insatiable appetite for philosophy, and with their latest LP Broken Equipment, they have interrogated their own identities – and the external technological influences that shape the band – with self-aware pretentious wit, techno-scepticism and scathing social commentary. The result is a wordy concept album of sorts set in NYC; a collection of cynical anti-establishment post-punk.

Following the dissolution of their previous band Bodega Bay and BODEGA’s formation in 2016, Ben Hozie and Nikki Belfiglio’s satirical musings – like those pondered on their 2018 debut Endless Scroll and 2019 extended play Shiny New Model – never shy away from self-critique. Opening their sophomore album with a dance-punk ode to identity, Hozie tries desperately to understand himself and the constant challenges NYC flings his way on ‘Thrown’. “My molecules change yet I remain / I weave and unweave my image.”

Atop an infectious twangy bassline courtesy of philosophy professor (and ‘de facto’ leader of BODEGA’s philosophy book club) Adam See, and Tai Lee’s percussive strikes, Hozie sneers at NYC’s culture of never-ending productivity in ‘Doer’, spitting out a Daft Punk-esque mantra that the city is maybe making him “bitter, harder, fatter, stressed out!” BODEGA’s sarcastic humour shines throughout their anthemic Beastie Boys/Run-DMC-style throwback (“Innovation waits for no man / Unless I lose my dongle!”), providing us with a New York slice of relatable satire.

Belfiglio takes on lead vocals for ‘Territorial Call of the Female’, dissecting female competition “because you know when the man is around / that’s when I’m putting you down.” Alternating between snarky and sweet with ease, Belfiglio’s expressionist vocalisation is complimented by Daniel Ryan’s angular new wave lead guitar lines and tone (referred to as the “insectoid” sound). This melodic sensibility continues on ‘NYC (disambiguation)’ with BODEGA taking a softer direction that is often at odds with their lyrical anger and disappointment; an honest look at NYC’s history.

Released in multiple languages prior to the LP’s release, ‘Statuette on the Console’ is another Belfiglio-sung highlight that ponders “anyone who puts their reality on your back and forces you to carry it around,” followed by the hip hop bounce of ‘C.I.R.P.’; Belfiglio and Hozie tag-teaming lyrics and wrestling media elitism whilst See, Lee, and Ryan provide ringside support with pulsating bass grooves, driving beats, and propulsive riffs.

The Cult-like love song ‘Pillar on the Bridge of You’ and The Velvet Underground inspired ‘All Past Lovers’ continue Hozie and Belfiglio’s journey of self-discovery in NYC, tackling relationships new and old, whilst ‘How Can I Help Ya?’, ‘No Blade of Grass’, and ‘Seneca The Stoic’ allow BODEGA to show off their rock and roll chops; Ryan shredding his way through the band’s ceaseless punk energy. But it is Broken Equipment’s closer, ‘After Jane’, that will leave a lasting impression.

Picking up the acoustic guitar, Hozie reflects honestly on his relationship with his mother for the album’s heartfelt final track; an emotionally raw realisation that after her death, her grace and pain now reside within him – “I’m channeling your hurt when I sing my songs” – It’s a sombre ending to an otherwise biting social satire, told through the ethos of punk rock.

BODEGA is a philosophical project and Broken Equipment is their latest thesis; an analysis of the changes occurring around us at an accelerated pace that directly inform our life experiences. Perhaps we’re the broken equipment.

Follow Bodega on bandcamp, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Photo Credit: Pooneh Ghana

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne

ALBUM: The Wants – ‘Container’

Formed by Madison Velding-VanDam and Heather Elle from New York art-punk band Bodega, The Wants‘ debut album Container is a punchy, defiant, riot of a record that simultaneously reflects and resists anxiety, on both a personal and wider scale. With its swaggering beats, techno influences, and to-the-point lyricism; it flows seamlessly from track-to-track demanding uninterrupted listening from the offset.

The Wants began taking shape when drummer Jason Gates and Velding-VanDam met in New York in 2014, but became fully formed while Velding-VanDam and Elle were working together under the Bodega moniker years later. Realising they all had a passion for electronic music, the three began writing together, and Container is the result of this collaboration.

Instrumental opener ‘Ramp’ commands attention with its thudding kick drum, while eponymous track ‘Container’ pulses with brooding bass lines and deadpan lyrical delivery. Pounding instrumental ‘Machine Room’ bleeds in to ‘Fear My Society’. “Will you love me if I’m a failure?” agonises Velding-VanDam, over funky beats and surprisingly buoyant synths. It feels odd to dance around to a track that’s fueled by anxiety and alienation, but it’s a natural response to The Wants driving rhythms.

Making space to individually review each of Container‘s tracks feels odd, as the record is such a cohesive creation, where each track transitions smoothly in to the next. Instrumental ‘Aluminium’ blends in to the unsettling ‘Ape Trap’. “I will stay a deviant, or else I die of boredom” Velding-VanDam sings, desperate to escape his metaphorical cell. Instrumental ‘Waiting Room’ builds on this tension, until its relieved by the confessional ‘Clearly A Crisis’. “I have no intimacy, I’m never vul-ner-able” – Velding-VanDam takes care to repeat, and speak this line with intense clarity.

The funky beats on ‘Nuclear Party’ float around as the cute threat of “kiss my bombs” ricochets between your ears. The bouncy ‘Hydra’ follows, before eerie instrumental ‘Voltage’ closes the record on a somber note. It’s a striking offering, with each scratch, pulse, and echo captured clearly. The band recorded the album in their bedrooms and their rehearsal space — a re-purposed HANJIN shipping container situated in the middle of a dumpling factory parking lot — so it’s a testament to their personal, and joint production skills that these elements can be heard in the mix.

With their myriad of influences – including the literature of Jenny Holzer, the sounds of The National, and a love for techno –  The Wants have created a sonic space on Container that’s somewhere between the catchy electronics of Depeche Mode, the angsty lyrics of early Sonic Youth. It’s a distracting record, in the best possible way, and deserves your undivided attention.

Listen to Container in full here. Follow The Wants on Spotify and Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Madison Carroll

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LIVE (Photos): The Great Escape Festival 2018

The Great Escape kicked off UK festival season in sun-soaked style last weekend, and it’s taken us a few days to gather our thoughts on the prolific 3-day event, renowned for championing new music. Spread across multiple venues in Brighton, we managed to catch some of the brightest talents in between sunbathing on the beach and consuming our body weight in fish & chips.

Irish beauts Pillow Queens kicked off proceedings with their packed set at The Prince Albert on Thursday afternoon, setting a high standard for the rest of the weekend, before Scottish alt-rockers The Ninth Wave blew us away at Horatios at the end of the Pier. They had three shows by the sea, so they definitely made waves.

Soccer Mommy

Gracing the brand new Beach House stage were Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy, and both performed to big crowds with their catchy slacker-pop anthems. We saw out Thursday in spectacular style at The Hope and Ruin with our favourites Queen Zee. Their packed set included a cover of Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Bonkers’ and their usual crowd-pleasers ‘Boy’ and ‘Sass Or Die’.

Queen Zee

We partied a little too hard post Queen Zee, so Friday was pretty hazy until our favourite rock-pop duo REWS blew our hangovers away with their set at the Beach House. We caught this duo in 2016 at The Speigltent and since then they’ve signed to Marshall Records, released their debut album Pyro, and have started sharing their singles in America. These girls are exceptionally talented and always entertaining to see live.

REWS

We had high hopes of catching Bodega, but the queue outside The Haunt was longer than the equator, so we took off in search of venues supporting The Alternative Escape. We caught some of psych-rockers Strange Cages before calling it a night.

Saturday started off with Canada’s Partner, who were a complete joy to watch live at The Walrus. We caught some final rays of sunshine and had our last portion of chips before heading over to Sticky Mikes Frog Bar to catch Copenhagen’s Nelson Can, who were ultra-cool all clad in white. We spotted Brighton’s ARRX on the barrier watching them too. Electronic one-woman-wonder Elsa Hewitt was the last act we caught in Komedia before the festival was over. She hypnotised us with her well-crafted electronic sounds.

Our photographer Jon Mo was arguably the most productive man in Britain over The Great Escape weekend and he managed to catch all the bands we didn’t (aside from Dream Wife, who unsurprisingly packed out The Beach stage to capacity.) Check out his incredible shots below. Brighton, we’ll see you again in 2019!

Audiobooks

Brooke Bentham

Chroma

Hatchie

Jealous Of The Birds

Stella Donnelly

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut