Brooklyn art-punks Bodega are fearless. The five-piece, once known as Bodega Bay, have been making snappy, propulsive post-punk that is coloured with wryly self-aware lyrics about the evils of capitalism, our online lives, and justice for Jack in Titanic (fair).
With slashing, low-slung guitars and deadpan speak-sung vocals a la James Murphy, they’ve nailed the perfect balance between unadulterated fun and the need to self-question. Singer and guitarist Ben Hozie speaks to us about the records that got him there.
A record that reminds me of the Internet
Jay-Z Big Pimpin [Roc-A-Fella, 2000]. I had a hip babysitter download Napster on my parent’s computer in 1999 right as I was getting into pop music. It took about 24 hours to download a single mp3, but I still remember the rush when the bar reached 100%. Pretty much all of the lyrics went over my head. I had no idea what a pimp even was – something adults did? – but the music was so futuristic-sounding and I felt like a God when it was played loud.
A song that reminds me of my first love
I’m in Love with a Girl by Big Star [Ardent, 1974]. This is one of the most beautiful recordings ever. So simple but so true. The melody really captures that perfect teenage buzz you feel after staying up for a few days high on teenage lust dopamine. I once visited Japan with a girlfriend and an MP3 player filled with the Big Star discography and when I hear this track now I visualise a combination of inane eight-hour landline conversations and rural Japan from a speeding train window.
A song that makes me feel really bitter
Of Montreal Imbecile Rages [Polyvinyl, 2003]. I am a big fan of the diss track – it’s really empowering to listen to somebody use their tongue to tear down a target in song. One of the best at this is Kevin Barnes. In this track, he’s more petty and pained than sharp – the lyrics read as a real-time conversation that I feel, but don’t fully understand. At the end when he belts ‘I have no hope for you anymore’. I mostly just feel sorry for him. It’s one of the most brutal moments I’ve heard in song.
A song that makes me despair
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band Mother [Apple, 1970]. This track is such a raw, beautiful piece of music – the dark cousin to Paul McCartney’s Let it Be. John performs self-therapy and becomes a wide-open child, screaming for attention and affection. This kind of return-to-innocence is one of my favourite things a tune can achieve. Since my mom passed I’ve only been able to listen to it all the way through once.
A record that soundtracked something really reckless
Baba O’Riley by The Who [Track, 1971]. When I was 19 I was arrested for resisting arrest in South Carolina. Instead of stopping at a police checkpoint, a very high teenage Ben decided to speed off in the other direction to the safety of my stepmother’s garage. I was promptly chased down, yanked out the driver’s seat, and thrown into a cop car. I kid you not, as I was handcuffed in the backseat of the ride en route to the station, the older arresting officer decided to turn on the area’s classic rock FM station only to hear “teenage wasteland, teenage wasteland, they’re all wasted!”. I was smiling from ear to ear. My life had never felt more like cinema. The officer immediately turned off his stereo and began scolding me: “I bet you think that’s pretty funny, you punk’. But inside I know he was laughing, feeling closer to me than he’d admit.
Endless Scroll is out now via What’s Your Rupture?