Music Reviews
Bush Tetras

Bush Tetras

They Live in My Head

Wharf Cat Records

Let’s face it. The 2020s got off to a rough start, and we’re all still reeling from it. The decade got off to a particularly somber start for the Bush Tetras. Long serving drummer Dee Pop died in 2021, just as this album was beginning to come together. His loss colors They Live in My Head. An air of loss and isolation hangs over the album like a Closed for Covid sign.

Pat Place and Cynthia Sley regrouped with their producer, Steve Shelly, taking over on drums and forged ahead. The songs they came up with are true to the band’s origin in the No Wave / Mutant Disco scene in early ’80s New York. Place’s guitar slashes and burns over a locked-down rhythm section that is always some form of funky.

Bush Tetras
courtesy Wharf Cat Records
Bush Tetras

The album opens with “Bird on a Wire,” a meditation on isolation. Sley muses that it might be nice to find a companion to share her lonely perch, but rejects the idea. Isolation is the social security of this decade. “2020 Vision” reflects on the recent past and concludes, “looking back at 2020, all I know is it’s been a journey.”

A pair of tracks toward the end of the record reveals the Bush Tetras to be haunted. “Ghosts of People” finds Sley reminiscing about friends like Dee Pop, who left us too soon. The song reminds me of the final scene of HBO’s series, The Deuce. In that scene, the lead character is walking down 42nd Street in its squeaky-clean Disney-fied incarnation, seeing the spirits of the pimps, prostitutes, and hustlers who lived on the street in his youth. The ghosts of “They Live in My Head” may not be dead at all, but they are more menacing. These spirits live rent free in Sley’s mind, invading her dreams with unwanted possibilities.

In spite of loss and alienation, the Bush Tetras of 2023 are still scrappers. They face adversity head on and dare the fates to dance.

Bush Tetras


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