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If you’re gonna punch hard, then you only got to punch one time
This week from Sam and Josiah.
There is a song. A song that’s sweeping the Nation. It’s a song full of self-empowerment, naive joy, and raw human power. My internet friends and I have been listening to it for days straight, its message seeping deep into our bones and becoming something of a rallying cry. But we’ll talk more about the song a little bit later.
Here’s some stuff we’re thinking about this week.
Taking Meds “Life Support”
Sam: Taking Meds are the most under-appreciated band in whatever subgenre I inhabit — Fest-adjacent? Josiah don’t answer this. In the past it’s been the band’s “angular” “post-punk” that I’ve found refreshing in the context of our shared PBR-swilling adjacency, but the songs that have been released from their forthcoming full-length have so far been kind of chilled out and… very sick?? This song has undeniable ‘90s alt-rock energy in the sickest way, but still offers snippets of dissonance that hint at something not-quite-Killjoys. Also the lyrics are very funny. “Vans stamping on human face forever?” That’s the good stuff.
Jos: Before hitting play on this, I just wanna say that the subgenre Sam inhabits is “mall punk but for guys who performatively say they hate going to the mall.” Now I’ve hit play and I kinda like this. For fuck sake. It really does have some Killjoys or Rembrandts vibes. The singer guy is even doing that little bobblehead move that they do. It’s weird how everyone from every side of “punk” is deciding to make Matthew Sweet music. It’s not going to last. But this is pretty nice.
Chris Farren “Cosmic Leash”
Sam: I put on Doom Singer last Friday while out running some cheeky workday errands and I basically haven’t taken it off. I messaged Josiah about it, which is unusual and — I know this — highly unwelcome. There’s something in it that captures the specific vibe of the last days of August when you’re staying up a little too late to soak up all the humidity while you can but also desperately trying to be casual about it. That’s also where “Cosmic Leash” really brought it all home for me, and I have to be honest, I’m doing the deranged thing I sometimes do where I make a playlist with two or three songs and loop it all day when I’m trying to write (the other song right now is the The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die cover of “In Circles”) so I have probably heard this song 100+ times this week. I have a sickness. There’s something here that captures — for me — the anxiety-driven propulsion of trying to squeeze all the hours you can out of these days, either as you work or relax or hang out. Like I need to finish 10 books this week and also have all my friends over for a barbeque and finish development packages for seven different projects and sleep and go for a run. This song is that.
Jos: Listen, Chris Farren recently followed me on the website called “X” and he’s faving my shit constantly. He’s getting involved with the bits. He’s replying to people who are sending me death threats. He’s having a grand ol’ time, and I’m enjoying having him there. So I’ve been intentionally avoiding listening to this man’s music because I don’t want to not like it and make things weird. So it’s kinda pissing me off that not only did Sam say “I think you’d really like this” on Gchat, where we barely chat anymore because Sam’s too busy having his little summer he won’t shut up about, but now he’s also put it here, in my home, where I listen to everything because I respect the process? Okay thank goodness, I do like this. The video is charming and funny, the guitars are sick as hell, the vocals are pushed without sounding like someone is smizing and making eye contact with me while they sing like most of the bands Sam likes. This is good. Sam is 2 for 2.
Sufjan Stevens “So You Are Tired”
Jos: Still, we gotta class up the joint in here a little bit. As a Christian music connoisseur, you bet your ass I’ve been fucking with Sufjan Stevens longer than almost anyone. But the thing about Sufjan is that he really pushes his luck when he’s not making sad little folk tunes. He’ll be like “yeah uh this next album is me doing really bad rapping over Fruity Loops presets and wearing shutter shades from the dollar store and it’s also about an overpass” and it’s the worst shit ever. But then, like clockwork, he snaps back into his hushed plucky sad-sack music. Dude this song bangs. The production is so textural, the backup vocals are angelic, and my boy Soof is back on his whisper singing. This is so good that he’s definitely going to punish us with an album about rollerblading that sounds like Matisyahu after he releases this one. So let’s enjoy it while we can.
Sam: I’ve never heard a Sufjan Stevens song I didn’t wish was just the “crying in the van” with friends song. I’m going to put that on right after this and I’ll love it. This falls into the category of music I performatively hated for so long I can’t tell how I really feel about it, but I’m pretty sure I’m also performatively atheist enough that there’s something intrinsic to it that grates my soul (not real). This is very obviously good and nice and yet? It’s very bad to me and makes me feel uncomfortable. It feels like it will never end. Can’t believe this guy is still going (career and also this song).
Zack Fox “dummy”
Jos: Zack Fox is really someone who has it all figured it out. He’s also so funny and so cool, and always both of those things at once without either of them ever taking away from each other. It was sad when he ended up a host on that weird Vice talk show that seemed like an after-school special, but then the universe corrected its course and now he’s on the world’s most popular sitcom and also constantly delivering the coolest music videos I’ve ever seen. This song sounds so cool and so funny at the same time. It’s another absolute hit.
Sam: I recently revealed to Josiah that I watch the popular sitcom and it felt like the most shameful revelation in a relationship defined by relentless shameful revelations. This is obviously sick and a great antidote to the Sufjan vibes still permeating this room like something died in the walls. Do you think I could ever be this cool? Glad this is being written post-Josiah so he can’t answer.
Jos: No, I don’t think so.
Bonk! Bonk! “One Time”
Jos: I first heard this song through Shannon, who would go on to tell me that it’s the first time she’s truly missed the pod. And it’s kind of true, this is pure pod: a band called Bonk! Bonk!, that is a new co-production of Tim Armstrong, and it’s just a lady doing a really bad Tim Armstrong impression on top of a stock punk backing track. Truthfully, I haven’t been this giddy about a song since I heard “Emo Girl” all those years ago. I’ve probably listened to it 100 times this week. I can’t begin to tell you what I love about, but to start, the non-saying “If you’re gonna punch hard, then you only got to punch one time” is so incredibly stupid and yet strangely evocative. And then she growls, “Confrontations arise, situation: survive” before getting into lines like “Divine feminine light is a blessing, it’s not a curse.” She also mourns the fact that there are people telling her what to do and what to wear, and there’s even a scatting part where she sings “doo da da da.” Oh yeah and the “witches, bitches.”
It sounds like a raw voice note recording on top of a stock instrumental. Our girl Bonk! Bonk! is basically taking the Tim Armstrong formula and adding a kind of Lady Sovereign rawness that gives it so much charm. I’ve been waiting for music that makes me want to become an oogle, and I think this is it. I’m going to go to a disgusting party and drink 40s and make myself into “Edward 40s hands” with duct tape and take photos of it on a flip phone that looks like it’s been dipped in vaseline because of this song.
For whatever reason, I’ve been in plenty of situations (I guess they’re called “social situations”) where people have been asking me about my taste and my views on good vs. bad art or whatever. Through the pod, I think I got good at bullshitting some semi-thoughtful, half-serious maxims about why I like what I like, what it is that draws me to look for the good in music that others have deemed bad. But listening to “One Time” by Bonk! Bonk!, it has become so much more clear: I just love music that sucks a lot.
BTW I made another YouTube remix:
Sam: I thought this was some classic zero views Josiah bait until he informed me it was a new Hellcat band, which immediately elevated it from “fun near-pod thing” to “important cultural moment.” It rules how if you squint you can hear a good Rancid song but once your eyes focus again it’s even better. There is nothing that brings me greater joy than someone who just isn’t 100% comfortable on camera — I think the funniest sight gag in Spinal Tap is Rob Reiner starting to cross his arms during the intro and just continuing the motion until they’re back at his side. This whole music video is made out of that tier of uncertain movement and I want Josiah to help make it the most popular music video of all time.
Closing out with this because I need to say it somewhere. Sara and I (this is Josiah speaking rn) went to Metallica last week. I only really got into Metallica because of Some Kind of Monster, so I was hesitant to spend big bucks to see them when that cute little bald therapist wasn’t even going to be there. But we ended up getting really discounted tickets for the Friday show right before doors. Well, because they’re doing some kind of weekend gimmick on this tour, the tickets were all tied to both Friday and Sunday shows. So we actually got cheap weekend passes, which I just listed again on Stubhub the next morning. I think we made like a $20 profit from going to see Metallica. So it was kinda worth it even though I had to sit through the “Gimme fuel gimme fiyah” song.
Free every Friday.