Budokan Boys return to tape with a new collection of tight, neo-nightmare pop songs, telling more tales from the other side of the end of history. DAD IS BAD see the duo falling firmly into their stride after years making music together, and it’s easily one of the best damn things you’ll hear on cassette in 2019.
Don’t hesitate! More words are below, but get to it and LISTEN to this exclusive stream of Dad Is Bad, out on magnetic tape later this week via Prague’s brilliant home for experimental electronics, Baba Vanga – it was also mastered by James Plotkin and features artwork by the mighty Tiny Little Hammers:
For those of you not in the know, Budokan Boys is the brainchild of two American fellas: Vienna-based composer Jeff T Byrd and New Orleans-based writer Michael Jeffrey Lee.
Jeff put out a Spool’s Out favourite not too long back, a solo album of claustrophobic electronic narratives which is essential listening.
Michael on the other hand, is also an award-winning writer, with a killer book of short stories published not too long back…
As a duo, their long distance relationship meant they often had to work in short blasts of creativity, Jeff assembling backing tracks while Michael scribbled down nutty words from disturbed American characters and essentially dropping it right on to proverbial tape. Their previous album for example – That’s How You Become a Clown – was all recorded live in January 2017 on tour through Germany and Austria. While Dad Is Bad was similarly speedy, all recorded in Las Cruces, New Mexico during the winter of 2017 & 2018, it’s infinitely more focused and precise than the maddened live theatrics of That’s How You Become a Clown. Here’s some press text about them:
“It came about because Byrd’s brother Brian (then employed by the city of Las Cruces) agreed to let them stay on his floor and use the dusty, junk-filled casita out back as a recording studio. Byrd and Lee spent two happy weeks in the southwest, and in between mineral soaks in Truth or Consequences, wild nights in Juarez, and bouts of crippling anxiety, they created DAD IS BAD.”
Dad Is Bad is a hell of an experience by modern pop weirdo standards. Byrd’s compositions have never been more nimbly brought together and precisely post-produced, check out the synth pop cabaret of ‘No Show’ from Dad Is Bad, brought to hellish life in a video the duo shot in Vienna. Its simple synth elements lock together in a fierce and razor sharp way no true 80s synth poppist could have managed, crisp and cold like the digital video itself. It makes the tune’s sociopathic lyrics hit home all the harder.
Lee’s singing too, is magnificent throughout Dad Is Bad. There are points where the boy squeals and freaks out across octaves, sure, but his best quality is in embodying the cast of odd characters Budokan Boys wrangle for every tune. Lee taps into the gnarled barstool blues of the title track with demonic glee, while the talking country hip-hop of ‘My Old Friend’ has Lee’s voice chucked through effects to sound like a chipmunk.
Somewhere between Yello and The Residents, between thrift store bins and broadway stage shows, between art galleries and food courts, Budokan Boys are wandering around seeking inspiration for their tales of robots, southerners, and internet trolls.