New Audio: PWR BTTM’s Latest Single “1994” Brings Back Memories of the 90s

If you’ve been following JOVM for a while, you know that the site has gone through a massive re-design over the past month and a half, and with a new CMS, it means adjusting to how that CMS is set up in comparison to how your previous CMS did things. And naturally, I’m still figuring out the kinks. which often means glorious errors including posting a couple of things hours before I had intended — and perhaps worse, accidentally posting something and having it completely disappear. So for this particular post, I’m doing it for a second time, and as you can imagine, it’s pretty infuriating. Worse yet, it’s all my damn fault, in the first place. So without further ado let’s revisit something . . .

Comprised of Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce, New York-based queer punk duo PWR BTTM met as students at  Bard College, and the duo immediately bonded over their mutual interest in bringing elements of performance art and drag art in DIY and punk culture. And the immediate result was that Hopkins and Bruce went into the studio to record the Cinderella Beauty Shop demo and a split EP, Republican National Convention with Jawbreaker Reunion. On those initial recordings Hopkins was the primary songwriter, played guitar and took up vocal duties while Bruce was on drums; however, since then, the duo have begun to share vocal duties and started to trade instruments for particular songs, which should give their newest material a different sense of perspective throughout.

PWR BTTM’s soon-to-be released full-length debut, Ugly Cherries is slated for a September 18 release and the album reportedly will cover the duo’s experience will queerness, gender (presumably, the gender binary in particular), and grappling with adulthood over the course of a year living in Upstate New York.

Ugly Cherries‘ first single, the album title track, “Ugly Cherries” quickly established the duo for enormous power chord heavy, thundering drumming and infectious hook-laden power pop/pop punk that channeled White MysteryThe Black KeysThe White Stripes and others — but beneath the ass kicking and name taking, there was a proudly, defiant weirdness that bubbled through the surface. The album’s latest single “1994” manages to sound as though it were released in 1994, as the song will likely cement their Hopkins’ and Bruce’s reputation for crafting hook-laden power pop/pop punk  — but in this instance, the song channels Nirvana, Local H, The Posies and dimly The Pixies, as the song alternates between a raucous, thundering hook and a momentarily quiet verse, and has a scorching, uncannily period specific-sounding guitar solo.

The song sounds so much like it was released in 1994, after playing it several times I had remembered where I was back in 1994. I was a bored 15 year-old sophomore at Francis Lewis High School, who spent a great deal of his time goofing off and barely paying attention in school, because it was pretty easy. At the time I was obsessed with Pearl Jam‘s Vitalogy, which had come out sometime after Kurt Cobain’s death — I still remember Pearl Jam performing “Not For You” about a week or two after on Saturday Night Live. I was also playing Stone Temple PilotsCore, The Smashing PumpkinsSiamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, which had come out the previous fall.  The Lords of the Underground album, Here Comes the Lords got quite a bit of play, as well as Das EFX’s first two albums. And at the time I had fallen in love — for the first time, to boot — with a lovely young woman, who I’ll call C. C was Romanian and spoke English with a lilting Romanian accent that occasionally made her sound a though she were singing. She had bright and expressive hazel eyes that I can remember to this very day, 21 years later. Strange, how the past inhabits so much of your present .  . .