Bang Sugar Bang
Thwak Thwak Go Crazy
by Scott Hefflon
One of the best unsigned bands I’ve heard in a long time. Labels should line up to court them, and bands should listen up to hear how it’s done. They call themselves a punk band, but they’re way too talented and clever to be so easily pigeonholed. And unlike other bands who experiment and spread their wings only to show they’re actually only good at three-chord punk, Bang Sugar Bang succeed at everything they try. Or maybe they’re just smart enough to know that every recorded fart doesn’t necessarily deserve to be on the CD. Again, other bands have a lot to learn…
Stupid cover and title aside, Thwak Thwak Go Crazy is one of those rare CDs you can play from end to end and enjoy every song. No filler, no stinkers. And, like the very cream of the crop, after a couple listens, your ears will perk up with the first chords of each song, and you’ll find yourself thinking “cool, I love this song.” Like, every song. It’s funny. Whenever I play it, whoever’s in the room with me turns to me after a few songs and says “I get it, I get it, you like this song too.”
It’s impossible to summarize Bang Sugar Bang’s style. They’re a trio, the vocalist/bassist, Cooper, is sexy and can coo or belt it out, and her other half, vocalist/guitarist Matt Southwell, can pull off heartfelt rock or goof punk without changing his pants. (There’s a drummer, too, and he hits things just right, ya know?) One of the best compliments you can give a diverse band is to not know which style is their focus, and which are the add-ons. When Cooper sings and Matt backs her up, it sounds natural. When Matt sings and Cooper backs him up, it sounds natural. Neither sounds like a back-up singer getting “their song” so they’ll quit bitching, and neither sounds like a resentful lead singer doing back-ups on “that stupid song I don’t sing.” Similarly, the anthems don’t sound intentionally dumbed down and repetitive, the goofy butt-wiggling punk doesn’t sound contrived, the tenderness isn’t forced, and the party hearty yahoo isn’t ironic. It’s all sincere, and it’s all top-notch. A rare find indeed.
If I were to list off my favorite songs, it’d be practically the whole track listing. As fawning as that sounds, it’s rare for me to love a record from end to end, so excuse the drooling, ok?
“Punk Beat” opens with, well, a punk beat, Cooper belts it out and breathes heavy, and if your toes don’t tap, check your pulse to make sure you’re not dead. “The Machine Gun Song” is a powerpop gem with clever lyrics sung by Matt. He hits all the right notes and doesn’t sound like he’s 12. If you hate pre-teen pop (or punkpop), get gooey-eyed over a guy who can actually sing, ok? “Kill the Radio,” “Major Label Interest,” “Tony,” “Alright,” and “Where’s the Fun in That?” flip-flop leads, Copper then Matt then Cooper. Without sounding intentional. That’s simply good tracking. “Sex Beat” and “One for the Road” are my least favorite songs, tucked at the end, and they’re still worth listening to, I just don’t jump outta my seat and sing along like I do the others. Closer “Sunday Night” is a stone-cold classic. A party anthem any Andrew WK fan will love. A singalong to spill beer to, to grab your friends to, to belt out at stoplights, and damn the funny looks people give you. Live the life. Sing loud and proud. Buy a Bang Sugar Bang CD and play it for all your friends and marvel at the fact that the radio plays such awful shit when there are bands like this around.