Music Reviews
BODEGA

BODEGA

Our Brand Could Be Yr Life

Chrysalis Records

I was introduced to BODEGA by way of their cover of Fugazi’s “Provisional,” from their 2022 release Xtra Equipment, the expanded edition of Broken Equipment from the same year, even though their first full-length album was released in 2018. I started paying attention to this classified-as-punk, hailing from New York, five piece thereafter. “Provisional” is an amazing cover of a band and song that does not often get covered. Broken Equipment includes some of my favorite BODEGA tracks: “Pillar on the Bridge of You,” “Statuette on the Console,” and “Territorial Call of the Female.” The choice to cover Fugazi is where BODEGA’s heart and intentions are aligned. They are punk in the sense that Fugazi and Blondie are. Melodic, with hooks for days.

BODEGA
Pooneh Ghana
BODEGA

Our Brand Could Be Yr Life is the band’s newest full-length release, out on April 12, 2024. Interestingly, it includes many songs that were written around a decade ago when the band first formed. Those tracks have been reworked to highlight the band’s development, but the base of the tracks was solid enough BODEGA felt that revisiting and rerecording those tracks was an important next step in their growth. The album’s title is a direct homage to the title of Michael Azerrad’s amazing book, Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981–1991 (2001), a deep dive into the American DIY scene most prominently dominated by bands that made “punk” music in that word’s very broadest sense, much like BODEGA. Smart, curious, making art, and not wanting to be confined by what the public thinks a rock band, or rock music, is. (Read James Mann’s 2001 interview with mike watt of Minutemen.)

Ben Hozie (vocals and guitar) and Nikki Belfiglio (vocals) have a knack for interesting harmonies, but when singing on their own, they have distinct deliveries. Ben adopts a staccato delivery at times. Nikki turns on a Deborah Harry-esque vocalization from when Blondie were at their brazenly brattiest. It works for me. Lyrics are always clever, addressing societal woes with aplomb, often sarcastically morphing familiar turns of phrase into wordplay.

There’s a sense of fun in first single “Tarkovski.” It’s so sunny sounding that it borders on pop, but lyrically it has touchstones from the underground of New York and beyond.

You said take me to the zone/ Take me to the zone/ You said you want hardcore/ I know you really don’t…” and in the last chorus “Yeah that’ll take you to the zone/ You read ‘Sculpting in Time’/ Changed your whole paradigm/ Now you won’t change your mind.”

I am reminded of Aussie band Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever in certain musical passages and phrasings.

“City is Taken,” with lead vocals from Nikki and a great example of the way she seems to prefer to vocalize, and “Cultural Consumer III,” another upbeat rocker that slows down in the middle to highlight a simple piano run, round out the singles from the release cycle.

I really like “ATM,” which stands for “at this moment” and automated teller machine, lyrically describing relationships (romantic or otherwise) as being as transactional as getting currency from the machines. “ATM” is faster and more immediate, due to a rolling tom beat from Adam Shumski (stand-up percussions). It’s also the image for the album’s cover, crafted by Belfiglio.

Stick in plastic/ Type in code/ Take what I want from you/ Hit the road/ If you get what you want/ You’ll pay a fee/ Touching buttons never free.”

Phrases could be coincidental but are so iconic that I must believe that they are nods to great bands, songs, and lyrics. “There’s no future,” The Sex Pistols. “And now you should be with us/ Now laughing like we do,” Jane’s Addiction.

Our Brand Could Be Yr Life is 15 tracks with seven bonus tracks (for certain releases) of mostly brief (+/- the 2 minute mark) songs, a sparkling example of what BODEGA do. If you aren’t familiar with them, give a listen. Then, do yourself a favor and dig into their back catalogue. I am pulling for BODEGA to blow up to the point where everyone knows about them in a year or so. They are crafting clever music that by all rights should have a wide-reaching audience and doing it extremely well. Catch them live on the East Coast through April and early May, then in Europe through early June on their 2024 headlining tour and find out for yourself!

BODEGA 2024 Headline Tour Poster
Courtesy of The Syndicate
BODEGA 2024 Headline Tour Poster

BODEGA


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