Vundabar Share Summer Anthem “Oulala” via SPIN
Gawk LP due out July 24th via the band’s own Gawk Records
On tour now!
Boston’s Vundabar are sharing their new single “Oulala” via SPIN, a summer anthem without a very summertime point of view. “Oulala” comes from the band’s upcoming sophomore album, Gawk, due out July 24th via the band’s own Gawk Records. SPIN said the single, “treads in pop territory, but it also traffics in the band’s signature brand of dynamic shifts. Though it kicks off with clattering drums and punchy guitar, the track’s four-and-a-half minutes are also packed with sing-song hooks, knotty instrumental lines, and a hazy coda that recalls a revved-up Real Estate track”.
When asked about “Oulala,” Vundabar’s Brandon Hagen said the song was about “malaise, detachment and depression brought on by modern life” which is reflected in the lyrics, “Definition blurs when you’re staring through the smoke / Nothing really hurts when everything’s a joke.” Expanding on the song, Hagen said, “The narrator has to find the humor in life, because it’s too absurd to be taken completely seriously. This protects him but at the same time makes him detached from his own emotions and other people. Modern life is a barrage of stimulation. One can become inundated with so much information they can hardly take anything in. “Smart enough to make it, dumb enough to use it’” he sings. The paradox of human “progress”. We’re smart enough to make these advancements in modern technology, but dumb enough to use them, as they’re ultimately self-destructive. Every step forward is a setback.”
In the bleak sonic landscape that has become associated with the Boston underground, Vundabar are an anomaly. Rather than wallow in minor chord fury and noise soaked post-punk, the young Boston trio have opted for something brighter and catchier, using their penchant for complex melodies and soaring harmonies to create an all shimmering beast of bizarre pop splendor. Gawk is oozing with shifting noise pop structures, touches of twisted surf rock, math pop, and indie-centric dance punk, Vundabar’s sound is expansive, shuffling with their feet on the ground while their heads floating above the clouds. Brandon Hagen’s dynamic croon bounces between a casual vibrato and soulful falsetto as the band’s interlocked melodies create the perfect accompaniment. It’s pop bliss for the summer sun, a glowing soundtrack to the year’s most celebrated months.
Stereogum recently premiered “Chop,” noting the band’s unique take on the Boston underground’s sound and their ability for crafting pure pop out of complexity and intricate song structures:
“Enter Vundabar, an excellent example of the way in which all of the melodic intricacies picked up and defined as the “Boston sound” can easily be repurposed and reordered into pop songs with broader appeal. “Chop” has all of the same yanking arrangements and spitfire drum beats as some of Vundabar’s peers, but their vocal performance and lyrical prose sound untethered to the favored aesthetic of their immediate surroundings”
06/09 – Omaha, NB @ Lucy’s Pub
06/10 – Madison, WI @ Shone Den
06/11 – Chicago, IL @ Hobo Spaceship
06/12 – Ann Arbor, MI
06/13 – Toledo, OH
06/14 – Columbus, OH @ The Pink Mistress
06/19 – Boston, MA @ The Womb w/ Lady Bones, Snoozer & Sneeze
07/17 – Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East w/ Pile, Creaturos & more
07/23 – New Brunswick, NJ @ The Court Tavern
Vundabar was born out of the alienation that goes along with the high school years.Brandon Hagen (20) was a lanky weirdo, ill equipped for Scituate High School’s long standing history of sports, trucks, and drinking. His recreational activities included dodging rocks thrown by groups of future frat bro’s and in turn further egging them on by relaying spray painted messages in their driveways. Drew McDonald (20) was an equally lanky glasses-wearing loner, having moved three times throughout his youth to finally end up living next door to Brandon. This chance occurrence made Hagen and McDonald into an unlikely pair.
Taking solace in music and absurdist humor, they would watch stand-up specials for hours, share albums with one another, and hash out the songs which would become Vundabar’s first full length, ‘Antics‘, which they recorded in Drew’s room with two microphones and garageband. Brandon projected his feelings of resentment, humor, and cynicism into his songs. There is an element of jest and aggression in Vundabar’s music which roots itself in the experiences of condemnation and alienation Hagen experienced throughout high school.
After a self release, incessant touring, and having Zackery Abramo (21) join to play bass, they received an offer from a French booking agency to tour throughout Europe. In the summer and fall of 2014 they toured Europe for three months, with a month long US tour wedged in the middle. Despite the excitement that came along with these opportunities, each member’s home life was becoming more and more unstable throughout these tours. Between divorces, foreclosures, financial troubles and debilitating mental health problems, the band had become a source of stability in a seemingly all at once unstable world. After these tours ended the three went into Mystic Valley Analog Recording Studio to record a follow up to ‘Antics‘.
The album that resulted, ‘Gawk‘, is a dynamic collection of ten songs. It blends pop sensibilities, loud quiet loud dynamics, and jarring energy. There are themes of alienation, identity, perception, detachment and a quiet bitterness blended with humor threading its way through the album. It is a culmination of last two years of their lives.