Comprised of founding members, Birmingham, AL-born, Minneapolis, MN-based frontwoman and primary songwriter Kerry Alexander (vocals, guitar) and Minneapolis, MN-born and -based Chris Hoge (drums) with Noah Boswell (bass), the Minneapolis, MN-based indie rock trio Bad Bad Hats can trace their origins to when Alexander, Hoge and Boswell all met while attending Macalester College in nearby Saint Paul. Alexander and Hoge began writing songs together in 2010, recording a collection of demos that would eventually comprise their debut EP. Their friend Boswell was later recruited to solidify their lineup, and the band quickly caught the attention of local indie label Afternoon Records, a label that has released albums by Yellow Ostrich, Now Now, Haley Bonar, One for the Team and others, as well as the band’s debut EP and their incredibly self-assured Brett Buillion-produced full-length debut Psychic Reader.
The band’s highly-anticipated and soon-to-be released sophomore album Lighting Round not only finds the band continuing their collaboration with producer Brett Bullion, who encouraged the band to record live to tape, which not only gives the material a you-were-there-in-the-room urgency and spontaneity, but emphasizes that living, breathing, vulnerable humans created, played and recorded the material; in fact, the spontaneous approach allows little room for the prototypical overthinking and perfectionism of modern recording, and as result, there are some minor mistakes — some wrong notes being played, maybe someone being slightly off key and so on. Of course, that’s meant to add to material’s honesty and vulnerability, as thematically its centered on dependence and independence within relationships. “Nothing Gets Me High,” the album’s latest single finds the Minneapolis trio meshing shimmering hook-driven New Wave-like pop with jangling guitar pop — and while giving their sound a clean polish, the point remains the song’s swooning, emotional heft, as the song focuses on two ironically related sensations — the all-encompassing pangs of first (or new) love, and the desire to bring about that feeling for someone else. And much like new love, it’s initially a little uncertain and a little unsure before it becomes a palpable ache.
Directed by Dan Stewart, the recently released super stylistic video features the members of the band playing the song in a studio — but from the perspective of someone watching a music video someplace else with TVs with fucked up color controls, further emphasizing the song’s initial sense of uncertain yet desperate longing.