Thursday, March 17, 2011

Screw the Ides of March — beware Bodega Girls

When music writers start playing the futures game, it's usually a good idea to take our prognostications with a grain of salt. That said, if there's one wager you can bet the house on this year, it's that Boston's Bodega Girls will spend 2011 on a giant winning streak, whether they like it or not. Lock it up.

This self-described troupe of musical perverts and punk-rock Caligulas have stumbled across the recipe for post-"rock band" shine: eschew the trappings of staid old indie clubs and produce exuberant dance jams at once soulful and arch, with a rotating line-up of performers that's like a traveling circus of party kids sweating all up in one another's business.

Given that the band's first official release is titled Et Tu Bootay, it's no surprise that they dropped it this past Tuesday, on the Ides of March. (The label is Burning Mill Records, original home to like-minded musical hyphenates Dom.) There's a slew of Bodega Girls SXSW showcases going on as you read this, plus trips to Europe and Japan in the works. But trying too hard tends to harsh the party.

"The funny thing is, with all of our previous bands, we were 'chasing it,' " says frontman Evan Kenney, whose previous outfit, the raucous, screaming Read Yellow, went through the international buzz-band life cycle at a pretty heady pace. "I don't even know what there is to chase anymore. The music biz is a sinking ship, and we really don't care to have much to do with it. As soon as we started Bodega Girls, we made a conscious decision to not give a shit and just try and make great music."

That means constructing straight-up party joints that reflect the big-timing vibe at their Middlesex Lounge parties — uninhibited '70s soul fever grinding up on modern electro. It's the swagged-out equivalent of anti-swag: not giving a fuck, but maintaining your chill despite that indifference.

"We do our monthly party, Cool Ranch, because we control it," Kenney continues. "We pick the bands and the DJs, there is no door charge, and it has all of the elements that we would want at a bash. It is ours. Trust me, being first of four opening for 'Electric Laser Mouse' or whatever at the House of Blues is not our style. We've been down that road, and we end up just leaving the show disappointed only to put some big name on our résumé. Fuck that. We have a better time playing some kid's loft in Bushwick to 100 people."

Even though official releases no longer play a part in the current model, Bodega fans may have been wondering why it took so long for their band to get one out. "It's nice to have something tangible that you can hold in your hand, enjoy its artwork, and give it to your kids someday," Kenney allows. "We are going to basically print only a limited amount of vinyl 10-inches and get them to our friends and fans."

Problem is, Bodega Girls have a few more of those today than when Kenney and bandmate Jake Brennan started brainstorming with Adam Taylor and Paul Kolderie at Camp Street Studios back in 2009. "It would be the four of us," Kenney recalls, "making beats and hanging out, trying to summon the ghosts of past Pixies records, while friends of ours would stop by, bring some beer or other party favors, and maybe play with us on a song. The one rule we had was that if we ever were working on a song and it wasn't done within a couple of hours, we would hang it up and hit the bars. Fortunately, everything we made became a Bodega Girls song."

None of those songs was ever supposed to be played out, but there was a party vibe that forced their hand. They had the songs, now all they needed was the people to dance to them. Although, to be honest, you could play "Ain't That Cold" or "School Night" dancing around in your underwear and you'd still feel you were at the coolest party of the week.

The solo underwear dance is actually the premise of the new video for "School Night," and following its lead should tide you over till the next actual party. Says Kenney, "Anyone who wants to come in and party with us is welcome. Peace, love, and all that hippie shit." Keep in mind, though, that the bigger the party gets, the more work it takes to keep it rocking.

BODEGA GIRLS ALBUM-RELEASE PARTY @ COOL RANCH | Middlesex Lounge, 315 Mass Ave, Cambridge | March 30 @ 9 pm | 21+ | Free | 617.868.6739

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