The track, Disco Dancer, is available via:
Post-Punk Punk; Rock; Pop
31% Wool Recordings
7th December, 2018
I am making changes next year and responding to a sense...
of fatigue and sameness. I am discovering too much of the same music coming through and the same problem with musicians. In terms of sounds, there are so many bands that are performing the same sort of thing and solo artists that are barely distinguishable. It is understandable there is some repetition and predictability but it is getting too common now. I wonder whether we will see any big breakthroughs in underground music in terms of genre and whether there will be more colour and surprise. I am also discovering many new artists are lacking basic things like high-resolution photos and a Twitter account. These might sound minor but, in a busy and competitive industry, they are invaluable. You need photos online because music is visual and it will attract people – and, when it comes to the modern day, you can take some great photos very inexpensively and without issue. I get a lot of people giving me excuses why they cannot get together high-resolution photos and it annoys me. The same goes for Twitter – it is the most potent and important tool for any new artist and to avoid it is a foolish and inexcusable thing. This does not apply to Bugeye but, if I were to suggest anything to the band as they head into 2019 is to get together a few new snaps. They have had a personnel shift and going through a new phase but, as they have some great shots out there already, a few more would be great and attract new followers. I have had to omit a few of the new ones because they are in landscape rather than portrait and I cannot use them on the blog. I have talked a lot about what I am looking for next year but I think, as a starting place, looking at the whole package is a good thing.
I will come on to look at Punk and embracing new genres; female voices in music and why next year will be different; splicing different sounds and coming up with a rare and exciting brew; the need to mention politics and document what is happening in the country – I will look at where the band might head in 2019 and what is in store for them. I will keep on the issue of lack and why a lot of musicians are going to miss out because of things other than music. I am attracted to Bugeye because of the fire and originality you get with the music and, compared to a lot of the other music I am hearing, they stand out. I am not sure whether artists are too afraid to be bold and stretch things but it is hard to tell the difference between so many acts. A lot of it sounds so routine and, whilst it is important to back and promote musicians, I am not remembering a lot of it because there is that repetition. The same really goes for social media. Too many do not really put too much time into social media and they leave big gaps between updates. So many do not have adequate and good-quality photos and the excuses are all the same. They either claim getting photos done is too expensive – one single shoot does not cost that much and you can get some great images done on your phone – and they are only putting out a few snaps for each campaign - it is unwise to limit yourself in terms of campaigns and a lot of good journalists are looking for more than two or three photos. It is a bugbear of mine but, into 2019, I am going to be a lot stricter and reject artists who are not capable of putting together excellent photos, a decent and updated social media outlay and can diversify in terms of their own music. Bugeye appeal to me because they have a strong Twitter following and are keeping it updated; there are some good shots in the mix (a few more would be great) and their sound is excellent.
The Croydon-based band is in my mind because, right now, an urgency and sense of anger is what we need in music. It is no coincidence that the best album of the year, according to most, is IDLES’ Joy as an Act of Resistance. It is a record that bursts with life and energy and, above all, has a relevance and key voice. The band has resonated because they are talking about subjects that are not often explored in music. They have explored mental-health and politics; masculinity and perceptions and what the future holds. The performances are kinetic and dynamic and you get so much physicality from every offering. Bugeye are the same and, as I shall explore, they are looking at important topics and concerned with what is happening. I think the mainstream media is still too beholden to Pop but, with Punk waves and great Hip-Hop artists showing their teeth and producing incredible albums; it has been a great year for those who want us to open our eyes and are telling the truth. I feel there is too much subjectivity when it comes to music and artists are too keen to talk about what is on their mind and not go beyond that. I understand why artists want to talk about love but the world is so divided and chaotic – music should be providing escape but it also needs to document what is occurring and having that perceptiveness. IDLES have struck a chord because they are providing reality and not lying like politicians. It is risky chatting about deep and hard subjects in music but Punk seems to be at the forefront. I have heard some great new Punk bands but Bugeye seem to be at the forefront. Things are not getting that much better so their voice is going to be crucial!
I have seen some great music this year and it seems slightly dismissive when I ignore other genres. I have mentioned the way so many sound alike and it is getting a bit weary not being able to bond with something fresh, genuinely long-lasting and interesting. I am not expecting a new Beastie Boys or DJ Shadow but I would like to see new artist go beyond the ordinary and commercial and be bold. Bugeye are standing out because they have the fire and energy of the best Punk bands; they are scoring their songs with messages about politics and stuff that is current and relevant and, in terms of the sounds, they mix the old and new. The staple and foundation is Punk but the band is inspired by the likes of Gossip and Talking Heads. Their sounds are not as intense as, say, IDLES and they bring something catchy and almost melodic to their music. I feel the new breed of Punk artists are putting together the guts and rawness you got from the likes of Sex Pistols and Ramones and they are putting that with something more arty, uplifting and accessible. Given the recent death of the Buzzcocks’ lead singer, Pete Shelley, we are seeing the Punk icons pass by and leave the world – this is sad but it should inspire musicians to take an example from them. Many are paying tribute to Shelley and his unique brand of songwriting. I think, as legends die, many will look back at their music and be inspired to do something similar. Maybe Bugeye rank Buzzcocks as influences but, when listening to a song like Disco Dancer, I get shades of the great man. There are elements of Ramones and newer artists like Goat Girl and Shame but it is a heady and fantastic mixture. In any case, I feel modern Punk is among the most promising music and I do feel, given the situation around the world, people are finding undiluted and straight-talking facts that politicians are not giving us.
They say there is change coming in and some form of gender equality and, whilst Primavera has announced Christine and the Queens as a headliner (the first big festival to do so), that is not being mirrored in the U.K. (that festival is based in Spain/Portugal). I am not holding much promise Glastonbury will book a female headliner and, although festivals are committed to a gender balance by 2022, that is a long way away and many could do it now. A lot of the best albums this year have been made by women: from Anna Calvi and Robyn through to Christine and the Queens and Kacey Musgraves. There is ample talent out there to headline festivals and it seems sexism is rife and not letting up anytime soon. Not only are there great female solo artists but there are bands like Goat Girl, Hinds and Wolf Alice (female-led) who could easily get the crowds in! It is worrying to see this really slow progress and I do wonder what the fate is of female acts right now. Many are showing their brilliance but getting less focus than their male counterparts. Bugeye will get the attention they deserve but I think they will have to wait longer than a lot of their male peers – even though their music (Bugeye) is stronger and has more nuance. Females are not being represented as fairly as they should and that needs to change next year! I am not sure whether a festival balance will help move against sexism or whether we will ever solve the quandary. I am discovering a lot of female gold and, although blogs and journalists are talking about them, it needs to companionship of festival bookings and radio-play. Bugeye are a newly-configured quartet and there is great strength in the ranks right now. I am sure there will be change but it might be slower than hoped.
2019 needs to be a year where we look at imbalances and problems and make a concerted effort to rectify it. I am a bit concerned there is not a great deal of actual effort coming from those who can make these changes and affect improvement – this is damaging music and holding a lot of great female sounds back. Consider a band like Bugeye and where they are right now. They are, in many ways, part of the zeitgeist and they have an awful lot to say. The music matches the muscle of the best Punk out there but there is a lot of depth and variation within. I feel festivals should be booking bands like Bugeye – their time will not come for a few years yet – and female artists in general are putting out better work than the men. Music should be about quality and not making concessions but one cannot realistically say the festival headliners are there because they are the best. Time and time again, we are seeing the same bands being hired and that needs to change. I would like to see a big effort come in next year that tackles inequality and recognises great female artists. I will move on from this subject but it has got me a bit riled! Music is at its strongest when it is diverse and equal and, in terms of sounds, can anyone honestly say the likes of Bugeye are inferior?! I have mentioned how Punk is very much the genre of choice now and here we have a great band that are kicking arse and deserve more attention. They have had a great 2018 and made some moves but I think next year will be an awesome one for them. Who knows how far they can go but I have every hope they will be challenging alongside the very finest around.
I will end with a look at where the band will head next year but I have touched on politics and splicing sounds together. There is a bit of Talking Heads in the music of Bugeye but you get a nice slab of Punk and Alternative. Bugeye lot at sexism and politics on their latest track, Disco Dancer, and you get a nice melting of sounds. It can be a bit heavy listening to songs about politics and the problems of modern life but so many musicians are sticking with love and not showing a lot of variety. I understand the impulse to discuss what is personal but the world is splitting and cracking and artists need to be more observational. Bugeye have been taking a good look around and are documenting areas that are very current and need to be exposed. They mix politics and Pop and you get a nice slab of glory. It is wonderful seeing this band strengthen and produce music that gets inside the head and can talk about something important whilst doing so. So much of what is out there today lacks eclectic spirit and themes can stray too close to the familiar. Those who are bolder with their themes and words are to be commended and are a lot more distinct than most. Bugeye, led by Angela Martin, are influenced by 1970s New York Post-Punk and there is a bit of Grunge grit in there. Previous singles such as Is This Love and Never Let This Go have been well-received by radio and the group are very much in demand. The only way you are going to remember a new artist, I feel, is if their palette is broad and they do not concentrate on the same thing every time. Bugeye have spoken about relationships and heartache but they realise they need to keep moving and not be slaves to one particular themes. Let us consider what is happening around the world and the role music plays.
This country is seeing an ongoing Brexit fiasco and it is no closer to being resolved. I do wonder what will happen next year and if we are going to be in this same mess by Christmas 2019. It is hard to know what is going to occur but, look further afield, and there are other problems rising. We have sexism in music and there is an ongoing concern regarding sexual assault. Few of us have the power to actual change these things but artists need to be aware of how important these problems are and provide their own spin. There is no reason to suggest tackling these areas will be dark and foreboding and, as Bugeye show, they can easily get political and ensure the music is fun and catchy. I will not stick too rigidly to subject matter and diversity but I think the best of next year will continue alongside the lines of this year in terms of importance and weighty themes. It is no coincidence that some of the best albums of this year have tackled the big issues and many artists need to keep that going into 2019. I know it can be tough getting ahead of the crowd and staying in the memory but Bugeye are showing what can happen and a good way of making an impact. I was compelled to look at Disco Dancer because it is the sound of the revitalised and galvanised band and talks about things not a lot of other acts are. The song burrows into the brain and you will find yourself revisiting it but, not only does the sound strike, but the themes and words will bounce around the brain. It is a great time for the band and I know next year will be even bigger. Let us get down to things and take a look at Disco Dancer. It has already received kudos and attention and that is going to continue over the coming days and weeks.
For anyone wanting a casual introduction and some time to consider will be in for a shock when Disco Dancer unfurls. You get plenty of punch and growl as the song races away. The riffs are beefy but there is economy; the percussion and bass leads the song and you have this complete and chunky track. One hears embers of the best Punk acts but, to be fair, the song marries Pop and Alternative together. The title might put your mind in one direction but, as the song unfolds, you start to consider other avenues. The introduction continues unabated and get the feet tapping. When the lead comes to the vocal there is a nice blend of Courtney Love and Kirsty MacCool. That might be my sleep-deprived brain leaping to conclusions but I can hear some eclectic and wide-ranging influences in the vocal. The song tells of a man, a disco dancer, who seems to be optimal and desired and as the heroine asks for her name to be called; I get the feeling gender imbalance is underneath the words. Maybe there is a passion and sense of lust towards the hero but I get the sense of a bit of imbalance and anger. One can certainly detect the bones of 1970s New York in the attack and tones and it is a heady brew. Repetition forms part of the early song and it is designed to get people invested and ensure the song sinks in fast. Soon enough, a queen of Disco arrives and she is the ruler of the floor. Contrasting with the male dancer, it seems like she boasts bigger moves and a lot more depth. It appears the song’s heroine is racing around and taking a bow. Maybe she is throwing herself out there because it takes little effort for the man to be seen. I get the scene of a dancefloor and crowds flocking but that image acts more as a metaphor for the music industry and how there is a division.
One of the reasons why I love the song is because it has spirit and spit and there is a great blend of the older and contemporary. The production is polished but allows for a lot of dirty and murkiness to create this fantastic explosion. The band is united and tight throughout and I was hooked from start to finish. Perhaps I am jumping to conclusions when I look at sexism in music and how there is imbalance but there might be other possibilities. Disco Dancer is a great song that gets into the head and creates an instant memory. You will find yourself returning and discovering new stuff time and time again. The lead elongates and punctuates her words after an explosive burst from the band. We witness something jumping and canine and, as we expect the song to continue down that road, a great offering emerges. She asks how the man dances and asks to be shown. I get the feeling that is an observation regarding the way men are perceived in music and the lack of female attention. Maybe it is more simple and there is this calling across the floor; a male dancer throwing out these moves and there is that sense of attraction. I tend to find the latter is a metaphor for the former and an investigating regarding the state of modern music. I like how Bugeye manage to unite the calmer and more teasing with the inflamed and dynamite. You never feel too suffocated by the song and it is always grips you and offers something exciting. I was motivated to return to the song after the first listen and that is quite rare.
I hope the band creates more songs like this and Disco Dancer is spread far and wide. The dancer on the floor is lost in a war and they have to compete against the odds. Whether you perceive the song to be about the battle of sexes or there is something more romantic at work; it is a masterful track that will not shift from the head. I was compelled to explore different angles upon each new spin and was coming away with different impressions. However you see it – and whatever the real truth is – one cannot deny that Disco Dancer makes a late big for one of the brightest and finest underground Punk offerings. I shall wrap up the review section in a bit but wanted to congratulate Bugeye on a great song that will get many more people looking their way. They have had a busy and changeable year and they could easily have left things quietly. Instead, we get this incredible song that declares war and raises some very important points. If you have not discovered what they are about and dug deep into their music then have a listen to Disco Dancer and work your way back. The band will have their sights set on a successful 2019 and I see no reason why they cannot nestle alongside the finest of the rising breed. If they keep putting our records as attractive and appealing as Disco Dancer then things are going to very bright and smooth. Spread the message and make sure you get the Croydon band’s music as far as possible. It is a tough industry but the group have negotiated so many hurdles and are a lot more equipped and ready than so many of their peers. I predict they will make some big waves in 2019 and, when it comes to the polls this time next year, their name will be in some pretty big publications.
Bugeye have won the ear of respected D.J.s such as Steve Lamacq and they have got under the radar of some pretty influential sites. This is no fluke. Their music is striking and passionate but you get plenty of song craft, memorability and measure. They can show their teeth and attack but they also take things down and can provide plenty of rhythm. The band has played some big gigs, so keep your eyes on their social media as we head into 2019. You will want to catch them perform live and see what they are all about. I am not sure whether they have more material brewing and what their plans are regarding future releases. There is nothing to suggest they will be underground for long and, given the rise of Punk and artists trending now, it is a great time for Bugeye. I think there will be an E.P. or album and many more gigs where they can continue to hone and reach new audience. This is a moment in music when certain genres are fading out and others are coming through. I feel Punk is a dominant force and it will continue to grow. Bugeye should be proud considering how far they have come this year – it has been a stellar time for the Croydon band. I am pumped to see where they go and whether new material is afoot. Disco Dancer is a perfect representation of where they are now and what they are all about. The track looks at sexism and imbalance but you are hooked by more than the words. It is a bursting and lively song that gets into the bloodstream and remains in the memory for a long time. There are not many bands who have the same combination of skills as Bugeye and I think more should follow suit. If you want an arresting and interesting group that mix relevance with fun and intelligence then you will get a lot of satisfaction from Bugeye. They have accomplished a lot so far but next year is a different matter. I feel 2019 will be a year where the band transform from underground whisper and vibe and take a big step...
TOWARDS the biggest leagues in music.