Having been dealt the lethal blow of disinterest, discontent and a lack of motivation due to the realization that life seems directionless — I stopped writing about music.
It’s weird feeling like your voice is suppressed by no one but yourself. Worrying and stressing about the future is really a waste of time but sometimes, if you’re like me, both are an excuse to be passive. I didn’t think I needed a jolt from a band or an artist to shake off some cobwebs, I felt like I needed a shake up in my daily life.
Then I heard BATS….
I moved back home two months ago after living in Boston for four years and there came a point last week when I needed to be alone. It was almost midnight and you could imagine how little a suburban NJ town has to offer a 22 year old seeking escapism. I had to go upstairs to a bedroom I share with my sister and pop some headphones on. I clicked on Cub Sport after about 35 minutes into my ‘me time’, a band I hadn’t listened to since they released their 2016 record This Is Our Vice.
Thank God I did.
There I was, allowing myself to fall into this emotionless pit of self-judgement and self-critique, inhibiting no one’s voice but my own, when I came to remember a band I loved – one that created and sang despite other’s using words to extinguish theirs.
Cub Sport kept creating when internet trolls decided to lash out on social media and YouTube. In doing so, they produced an album that’s simply mesmerizing. It makes you think of the fucker that wronged you, the one you love and the one who has imprinted your heart so deeply, that nothing is as bright or meaningful without them. If you’re like me, you might now sit back and realize that all of those descriptions can be attributed to one individual. That epiphany makes every word more poignant and each emotion more potent.
Listen, there are bands that produce spine-tingeling tracks. We all have at least three that come to mind without even blinking, but I encourage you to view Cub Sport through a very special lens.
This is a band that gets shit and I mean shit for being megaphones for the LGBTQ community in Australia and yet, have produced two stellar albums in two short years in a country that saw marriage equality become the #1 topic up for legal debate in 2017. It wasn’t long ago when The Football Club, the now defunct winners of a Triple J new music search, seemed as though they’d be able to amplify the voices of the trans community and create some truly groundbreaking music. It’s much easier for young kids who are gay, trans or queer to follow their dreams of becoming a musician, an artist or the like when they see someone who is like them, achieve well-earned success and express themselves unapologetically. The lead singer of T.F.C., Ruby Markwell was accused of sexual assault, causing her group to disband and rightfully so. What could have been an amazing step forward for music, was tarnished and eviscerated by sexual misconduct, likely enabling the bullies who judged the LGBTQ community to attack a band like Cub Sport with more gusto, and with what they saw as further justification for their abhorrent actions on social media.
Let me iterate, Cub Sport are the antithesis to T.F.C., and are using their platform for good, to express themselves, tell their love stories and see the influence of the celebration of their uniqueness reverberate down generational lines.
Too often, bands run from accepting the label as a ‘voice’ for a particular group of people mostly because a label is used more so for consumers to place musicians into groups or differentiate fan bases, but I think that 2017 has seen a shift in the viewing of such generalizations. Cub Sport can stand both proudly as beacons of light for people seeking the right to love who they love and rise as artists empowered by their own unique stories and expressions.
Nitty Gritty (with a Stranger Things plot-twist)
Many of the tracks intertwine a delicate layering of synth with soft strumming that can easily be overdone, but are masterfully tempered. Some tracks such as ‘Temporarily’ hit a more electronic 80’s influence that I’m not personally seduced by, but I’m sure might play to the tastes of others. Then they pop a song like ‘Solo III’ on BATS, which feels like the Stranger Things soundtrack had a music love child with a SoundCloud DIY project. Listen to that damn song and tell me you can’t see Nancy staring out her window wondering why she did Steve so dirty. (Jonathan, you devil!) Also, if ‘Look After Me’ isn’t a song you want Eleven and Mike bike riding down a damn road to, then never read this blog again.
Now, I know I’m one of those ‘losers’ who thinks a music venue is my chapel, my car is my time to pray and that sharing music is my form of evangelicalism (eye roll) – but you’d be doing yourself a disservice by sleeping on BATS. ‘Hawaiian Party’ is the main pillar of my playlist groove which I enlist the help of when I need to recalibrate, wind down and muffle the deafening sound of my anxious mind. However, ‘Crush’ is the standout song for me. It touches on the fear of letting the things left unsaid erode a relationship, seeking the escapism that only a joint can bring, and allows the listener to turn off their mind while turning up their senses. Head swaying, heart open, lost in the sauce.
That’s right. Sauce.
One more time for Joe Keery –