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Altrok Showcase w/ Sean Carolan

CD of The Week

Week of 4/15/24

    BODEGA - Our Brand Could Be Yr Life (Chrysalis)

    Back in 2022, we were introduced to New York art rockers BODEGA and their angular, arch indie rock sounds on their album Broken Equipment. The band had actually been around for a few years and back in 2015, under the name Bodega Bay, released Our Brand Could Be Your Life, a play on the classic book Our Band Could Be Your Life, about the '80s U.S. punk scene. For the follow-up to Broken Equipment, BODEGA revisited the 2015 album, reworking and reinventing the material to fit their current incarnation. That brings us to the newly released Our Brand Could Be Yr Life, a loose, clever commentary on the intersection between commerce and the indie rock music world.

    BODEGA get slotted into the post-punk basket but they’re not as shouty or percussive as the British bands leading that sound nowadays. Their guitars are strummy and complex, for one as heard on opener “Dedicated to the Dedicated” and “Webster Hall,” with a definite Television influence.

    Our Brand Could Be Yr Life is punctuated throughout with robo-voice samples dropping in to ask “What is the difference between an artist and an advertiser?” and going on about “personal brands.” On “Bodega Bait,” they sing, “This is new BODEGA song/It's not going to be very long/We've got so many things to sell you/But there's no time left to sing along.”

    BODEGA is led by founding members and songwriters Ben Hozie and Nikki Belfiglio and many of their best moments come on tracks where both of their voices appear, providing counterpoints to one another. Lead single “Tarkovski” is built on some great guitar work, with a title that intentionally misspells the influential Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky (Hozie is also a filmmaker). The punchy “ATM” is another highlight, along with the woozy ‘90s rock of “Stain Gaze” and the Buzz Band chiming guitars of “Major Amberson.”

    The original version of the album is a sprawling 33-track, lo-fi recording of short song snippets. “Cultural Consumer” is split now into three parts (it was originally five on the 2015 version). Our Brand Could Be Yr Life wraps up with “City Is Taken,” a treatise on gentrification with lyrics inspired by a Patti Smith quote, while Belfiglio has some Patti attitude in her vocals.

    Even in this tightened-up version, Our Brand Could Be Yr Life meanders a bit as it ebbs and flows, but it sounds great and is an obvious improvement over the original model. Plunk down your hard-earned cash and participate in late-stage capitalism when BODEGA plays The Baltic Hall on Friday, April 26th.

    Review by Joey O.

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