Check out a track-by-track breakdown of the trippy record from the NYC skronky punk + no-wave band
Don’t blame me for the weird way my brain works, but you know the part in Knocked Up when Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd’s characters eat mushrooms and go to Cirque du Soleil? That’s kind of the vibe I get from Is This Really Happening? (FW20)—the eight-track record from “spazzpunk/no-wave/art-rock/post-punk” band OOF, that explores both the relatable and the unfamiliar, the real and the digital spheres, and combines the awesome, the weird, the clever, the sometimes hilarious and occasionally kinda creepy for a vibe that I haven’t quite figured out yet but am very, very into.
“We like to say we’re skronky punk + no-wave, with baritone sax and female/male vocalists dissecting the strangeness of life in the real world and online,” the BK band told me over email. “We’ve had some wide swings in our sound over the years as different members passed through the lineup, influencing our sound on the way. Now there’s two of us writing in the pandemic, bringing as much attitude and energy as possible from a safe distance.”
While the record was released back in October, after giving it a listen earlier this year, I asked the band to dive into the beautifully bizarre record and share a bit about the subject matter that inspired it.
IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? (FW 2020) —TRACK BY TRACK:
“Let the Dream Die“
“Most of us walk around with the vague idea that something good will happen to us. Maybe one day we’ll meet an alien or become the president of the United States. The appealing part of that kind of fantasy is that it happens with no effort or forethought. It’s like winning the lottery. Wouldn’t we be happier by embracing the reality of our lives and not waiting for a flying saucer to land in our backyard?”
“Waiting for the Big One“
“Most of us walk around with the vague idea that nothing bad will happen to us. This song came out of reading Kathryn Schulz’s article ‘The Really Big One’ in The New Yorker about the catastrophic earthquake that’s coming for the Pacific Northwest. How do you live with disaster looming on the horizon?”
“Let’s Take a Walk in the Graveyard“
“Early in the pandemic so many people found respite in taking walks around Greenwood Cemetery, pushing strollers and having picnics among the tombstones. We were all so desperate to get outside. We were also inspired by Mr. Transylvania’s unforgettable ‘Sex – With a Ghost.’“
“Too Many Emails”
“Some people have tens of thousands of unread emails. How do they ignore that little red notification on their iPhone? Anna is very zen about it. Peter not so much.”
“It’s easy to imagine that we could create something great if we just had the time, the space, the right instrument. We’ve all heard great country songs, we know they’re great, so why couldn’t we do that ourselves? It’s easy! But until you put the work in to create something you’ll never know whether your idea is any good. Bad art takes just as much effort as good art.”
“If you’re reading this, you have our permission to throw away all the old cables in your junk drawer.”
“This was the only song we wrote with a full band in mind. But a sludgy punk song transforms when you’re recording alone at home into something more tense and claustrophobic.”
“Is This Really Happening?“
“Not many of us know how an iPhone really works. I certainly don’t. We spend all day using technology that might as well be magic, and I think it’s made us more willing to believe in other invisible powers – astrology, tarot, etc. We know so little about how the world works, and yet we have to keep living in it. With so many traumatic events in 2020, this song embodies some of our disbelief.”
Is This Really Happening? (FW2020) is out everywhere + available for your listening pleasure now! Go forth and enjoy it while cleaning out your inbox, clearing out your junk drawer, strolling through the cemetery or doing anything else… in any other state… that feels right to you on this particular day in this weird, weird world.