Bandcamp Picks of the Week are back and better than ever
Kiwi jr. – FOOTBALL MONEY
Genre: Power Pop, Jangle Rock
Favorite Tracks: “Murder in the Cathedral,” “Salary Man,” “Nothing Changes,” “Wicked Witches”
The give-no-fucks attitude of ‘90s Gen X’ers is, by and large, tiring. I think even most Gen X’ers who came of age in that decade agree that to be that blase about things borders on tiring. And yet almost in spite of that, Stephen Malkmus and the legacy of Pavement endures (so much so that you can spend great amounts of money to see them return to the stage in 2020), an embodiment of that indie cred coolness. And trust me, I’m as guilty as anyone of buying into that legacy and the indifference that that brand of “cool” required. And yet to acknowledge that caring about something— anything—is rewarding and to hear “Gold Soundz” or “Frontwards” or “Summer Babe” and reckon with how endearing his apathy and jadedness are, are two very separate things. Within that separation lies the slacker rock on Kiwi jr.’s FOOTBALL MONEY, which somehow delivers similar detached levels of cool while also feeling hearty and genuine. There’s a Malkmus-esque quality to the way that Jeremy Gaudet delivers his vocals (a comparison he’s likely sick of hearing by now), but the entire album clearly comes in the lineage of Pavement’s more rootsy excursions—FOOTBALL MONEY is at its most interesting when it’s fucking around (that’s the technical term the albums begs me to use) with harmonica and pedal steel. Despite the lush backing vocals, brushes of harmonica, and warming guitars on opener “Murder in the Cathedral,” it’s the way Gaudet explodes on the line “he looks just like James Dean / Oh that is James Dean!” that will be etched in your memory on the first listen. Musically the band feel like a slightly harder edged The Go-Betweens, with similar musicality but more piss, vinegar, and sarcasm fueling them. The rushing and delightfully unwieldy vocals amidst the blissful instrumentals are where FOOTBALL MONEY excels most (“Salary Man,” “Comeback Baby,” “Swimming Pool”), but there’s enough punky cuts here to give those looking for something with more of an edge to appreciate, and Gaudet is at his most detached on those tracks (“Leslie,” “Gimme More,” “Nothing Changes”). Check it out over on Kiwi jr.’s Bandcamp.
yipee! – S/T II
Genre: DIY Rock
Favorite Tracks: “Steve Nash,” “South Dakota Premium”
Off the top of my head, those are the professional athletes I’d put in the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame. It’s a short list, a not particularly well-researched list, a mostly contemporary list, and above all else, a personal, if not slightly emotional, list. But of the seven names I listed, no one broke my heart the way that Steve Nash did. I remember the exact day it happened, too: July 4th, 2012. It was a Wednesday. I was a Junior in college. I was at a friend’s party, everyone was high as a kite, and my friend ate an entire package of double stuf oreos—every sleeve, demolished. And all the while I was trying to get drunk to fight off my frustration of learning that Nash, the revolutionary point guard who gave his literal blood, sweat, and tears to the Phoenix Suns, was going to, of all teams, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Arizona rockers yipee! probably remember this day as well. “Steve Nash,” the opener of their delightful four-track EP S/T II, is a DIY bedroom ripper that would have ironically soundtracked that moment of realization pretty well. Granted, the song feels more fueled by real-life anxieties and uncertainties and less by a millionaire athlete abandoning the state he had once lifted up despite thousands of people, nay, fans, giving him every ounce of their basketball viewing energy, but I digress—the song fucks. That’s true of the other tracks on S/T II, which takes pages out of the LVL UP playbook with quick-hitting microdoses of melodic garage and lo-fi rock. “Jock” in particular lasts for just over a minute and yet takes up the musical arc of something four or five times longer, with some crunchy riffs and catchy vocals. The latter two songs, “Snowbirds” and “South Dakota Premium,” are the denser songs, both reaching two minutes in length and giving guitarists Aaron Ponzo and Casey Jones ample time to explore grimy guitar riffs and scrappy solos (the close to “South Dakota Premium” is DIY guitar exploration at both its least-focused and most fun). Even though I’ve ultimately forgiven Steve Nash, ultimately when I place myself in the context of that NBA news cycle I was 20 years old and lacking any semblance of direction in my life, and that’s a feeling S/T II captures and soundtracks all too well. Give it a listen on Bandcamp.