“Love My Life”, the upcoming album from Lowell based experimental indie rockers INSPECTOR 34 comes as a wild blend of styles, described as “junk rock,” “sludge pop”, “apocalyptic indie rock”, or “like drunk Pink Floyd hanging out with Captain Beefheart.” And it’s certainly not all sunshine and flowers. Fresh off the release of their new music video for the noisy single “The Gray House”, we’re pleased to give you their newest track “The World Explodes”, along with the band’s extensive commentary about their work, their take on this crazy year and a special list of top 15 records recommended to check out in 2020!
“Love My Life” by INSPECTOR 34 is out November 34th (aka December 4th) from Sad Milk Collective on digital and vinyl. Pre-orders already available on Bandcamp and from the band’s distributor Forced Exposure.
“I actually started writing this song on the night of the 2016 US Presidential election, after getting home very late, and very drunk, still trying to process the intense feelings of helpless loss and defeat that had come so unexpectedly, and needing some sort of outlet for it.” – comments the band’s vocalist and guitarist Jim Warren.
“I had no words, but just kept pounding away at these simple, demented sounding chords, mumbling a confused melody that sounded as close to how I felt as I could get it.” – he continues. “It’s a relatively simple song, but it took a long time to finish writing – I think I needed distance and perspective from the subject matter, and it sat untouched for years. Eventually with the help of the rest of the band (especially Pat) we got it put together, but even though I’d known what it was about for years the lyrics came last – I guess more recent events threw my initial feelings into sharper relief:
I can see you crying
‘Bout which way to go
How to pick a side when
You ain’t got no hope
Well, take two of them five and
Grip ’em to your nose
Let the refuse slide in
Then go back in your hole
I can hear you crying
But you gotta know
Made your bed to lie in
So try to lay low
Yeah just settle right in
And take in the show
While the world explodes
I can tell you’re frightened
But where you gonna go?
While the world explodes
Running through the night and
the light’s gone and left you cold
Best stay out of sight, friend,
or you’ll be eaten whole
By your own creation
Or else by the convulsions of correction
If it’s not too late for us
It is not too late for us
But we don’t have long
INSPECTOR 34 recorded this album themselves, in the months before and first few weeks of the pandemic shutdown.
“This was actually one of the last songs recorded – we tracked the drums the day before the state shut down and stay at home orders were put into effect (quite by accident and very luckily).” – adds the band.
“The guitars and keyboards were recorded in our separate homes – since Pat lives in an apartment where he’s not allowed to be noisy, he actually had to record some of his guitars using a “virtual amp” which I then had to reamp while mixing to get the tone right. I did the bulk of the mixing and arranging myself, but with a great deal of help from Silas, who also mastered the album. We are releasing the album digitally and on vinyl via our own Sad Milk Collective, which operates as a label when it suits our needs but exists as an arts and music collective made up of people in and around the Lowell, MA area. We also have a Patreon page where we release exclusive music several times a month to support our artists. Our physical releases are distributed nationally and internationally by Forced Exposure.”
Asked about their longing for live shows, they concluded: “We would love to be able to tour again but we live in a country where mean idiots have made this irresponsible. As soon as it’s safe for us to get back out there we will, we really miss it.”
“𝐼 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑘 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 ℎ𝑎𝑠 𝑏𝑒𝑒𝑛 𝑎 ℎ𝑎𝑟𝑑 𝑦𝑒𝑎𝑟 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑦 𝑜𝑟 𝑎𝑛𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 – 𝑤𝑒 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑘𝑛𝑜𝑤 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 ℎ𝑎𝑠 𝑏𝑒𝑒𝑛 𝑔𝑜𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑜𝑛 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑑𝑜𝑒𝑠𝑛’𝑡 𝑠𝑒𝑒𝑚 𝑡𝑜 𝑏𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑦 𝑝𝑜𝑖𝑛𝑡 𝑖𝑛 𝑑𝑤𝑒𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑜𝑛 𝑖𝑡 ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑠𝑜 𝑠𝑢𝑓𝑓𝑖𝑐𝑒 𝑖𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑠𝑎𝑦: 2020 𝑐𝑜𝑝𝑠 𝑏𝑎𝑑 𝑓𝑎𝑠𝑐𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑠 𝑏𝑎𝑑 𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑖𝑠𝑚 𝑏𝑎𝑑 𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑚𝑖𝑐 𝑏𝑎𝑑. 𝐺𝑟𝑜𝑤 𝑢𝑝 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦𝑏𝑜𝑑𝑦.”
“We’re here to talk about music, so:
As a band, this year has been a blessing and a curse. We really miss playing shows, or even playing together – we’ve barely been together as a group since March, and then only outdoors which isn’t really an option now that it’s cold out. As infection numbers rise again throughout the country, it’s seeming unlikely that we’ll feel safe enough to practice again for a while still.
On the other hand, without the break from playing shows and the isolation time imposed on us by the pandemic, this album might not have come out for another year, and who knows how different it would’ve been? Definitely wouldn’t have had a fun cartoon music video. But as proud as we are of what we’ve been able to accomplish this year, the damage done to our local scene’s artists and venues worsens by the day and may be irreparable.
When we start playing shows again it will be in a very different environment than what we’re used to, but people will continue to create, and we will find spaces to do it in. That will never change. I hope if we can learn one thing from the pandemic it’s to take a step back and begin to de-commodify our society a little.
Now that we have demonstrable proof that we DID have the resources to provide for each other the whole time, and society DOESN’T completely implode when productivity takes a dip, maybe, oh so slowly, people will stop dismissing those of us who dream of a better world as silly idealistic utopians and we can start working towards that better world. Or maybe we’ll all just kill each other and the world will forget us. It’s pretty wide open at this point, and simply electing a Democrat and calling it a day MIGHT not end up solving all our problems. But hey, wait and see, and listen to our album where we’ll show you how we feel about it all.”
Top 15 albums of 2020, by INSPECTOR 34:
“We made this list as a band, with each member contributing a few albums. We’re not going to tell you who picked what album though. These are in no particular order.”
The Menzingers – From Exile
This is a reworked version of their 2019 release “Hello Exile,” re-recorded acoustic during quarantine. I think these stripped-down arrangements serve the songs a lot better, sounds like some sadboi Neil Young B-sides in a real good way, and it made me cry.
Meridian Brothers – Cumbia Siglo XXI
These freak-psych-cumbia wizards have done it again. Very few bands make me want to dance, and fewer make me laugh aloud with sheer joy at their musical choices. These guys do both, frequently. This album is a little more electronic and “chilled out” but just as awesome and interesting and fun and weird as the rest of their stuff.
Wishbone Zoe – French of the Bird
There are only two records I can think of in the world that fall under the category of “glitch opera”, and this is one of them. An awesome and anxious masterpiece of voice, drums, banjo, samplers and more that make its 26 minutes seem impossibly epic.
RMR – DRUG DEALING IS A LOST ART
I think Dealer was the first track I heard from RMR and I really dig the “falsetto-crooning-about-selling-coke-over-guitar-beats” vibe. Overall he’s more melodic and coherent than a lot of the Young Thug clones we got out here right now, and I appreciate the anonymity of his public persona as a callback to MF DOOM. The Westside Gunn intro to the album is fuckin killer, and it’s hard to beat a remix of a Rascal Flatts song where he changes the chorus to be about hating cops, really with the times for 2020.
Ty Segall – Segall Smeagol
This album was an unexpected little gift in the midst of quarantine. A joyful blend of silliness and heaviness that is Nillson and Segall coming together as one in a way that few artists can hope to, it made for perfect listening while working from home in the backyard. The last track “Jump into the Fire” absolutely blew my socks off.
Touche Amore – Lament
I’m a sucker for these guys, their sound has changed a lot since the first record but I actually don’t hate the turn towards poppy gang vocals they have on this record. Biggest regret of 2020 is that I won’t be able to climb over a wall of people and steal the mic to yell “I’M JUST A RISK” at the tour that would have been in support of this album.
Bad History Month – Old Blues
This is a great continuation of the general “mellowing out” trajectory of his past few albums – long, meandering, stripped-down songs in a catchy and melancholy and contemplative mood. This one gets huge and dark at times and thematically comes together in a real satisfying way both lyrically and musically.
Haggus – Straight from the Slaughterhouse
California’s own MinceGore masters are back at it with enough blast beats and chainsaw riffs to overflow even the most robust toilets. I love the interplay between the pitch shifted vomit vocals, the ear piercing shriek vocals, and the pained wail vocals. Just listen to this one, it might be the record of the year if you are the kinda person who likes drinking trash beer in a basement and picking through ash trays for cigarette butts.
White Poppy – Paradise Gardens
A really beautiful and pillowy dream-pop record that was really good for walking around suburbs and empty streets during lockdown in the spring. Good for sad and lonely times of any kind, perfect for 2020.
Knock Over City – It’s Rad, Dude
One of the bands we’ve played with the most, and also one of the loudest, this album might be their best one yet. Gloom and doom, with real solid riffs. I wouldn’t call it a pop punk album but I also wouldn’t necessarily NOT call it a pop punk album. Our friends from the band PWRUP played horns on some of these tracks and it’s just great.
Orville peck – Show Pony
This is just a perfect country record and there’s no way around it, I listened to “Summertime” nonstop all summer, and “Ain’t No Glory in the West” is getting a lot of play this fall. The closing song, “Fancy,” is a ballad about a poor kid who becomes a transgender prostitute and eventually becomes a kept girl for a congressperson, and I really think that fills a void that has been wide open in country music.
Fred Cracklin – Anxiety Kinship
You might like this band if you think Lightning Bolt is boring. They masterfully avoided their sophomore slump by branching out into every possible direction — throwing some piano jazz and mouth-sounds into their usual punk/sludge/metal-machine miasma. Very bummed they didn’t get to tour — they are INCREDIBLE live and a great couple of guys.
Kofi the Spiderman – Love Me / Love Me Not
Kofi’s band Arty $lang is another contender for “bands we’ve played with the most” but as a solo artist his shambolic post-hip-hop offerings have really made an impact lately. He’s put out 3 albums so far this year, but this one made me feel like my bones were shattering out of my system, which is a good thing.
Deerhoof – Future Teenage Cave Artists
I just got turned on to Deerhoof and figured this would be a good place to start. They clearly killed it this time, again, after TWENTY FIVE years as a band. Apparently this album is about the apocalypse but came out BEFORE the apocalypse happened.
TRAGWAG – Stay the Same
A longtime friend of ours, it’s been great to hear his sound grow and mature over the years. This album is nostalgic and aggressive. It’s a happy blend of pop punk and folk punk. It’s grown up, but it’s still punk goddamnit.
The Bombpops – Death in Venice Beach
This band is a recent discovery for me and I’m kicking myself for not finding out about them sooner because this album absolutely rips and I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. This album takes all the good pop punk tropes of the last 2 decades and rolls them into 12 tracks of perfection. It’s tough to pick a favorite song. “Can’t come clean” is my favorite but don’t you touch that MFn skip button! Nothing but killer here.
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