BAD HEAVEN LTD
ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM AND SHARE TITLE TRACK AT STEREOGUM
NEW LP, strength, OUT AUGUST 2ND
Bad Heaven Ltd. is the new project helmed by John Galm. A mainstay of Philadelphia’s independent music scene, Galm has been part of many notable bands over the last decade, including Snowing, Street Smart Cyclist, and Slow Warm Death. Fleshed out with Melissa Brain on drums, Ross Brazuk, also from Snowing, on bass and former The World Is A Beautiful Place… guitarist Tyler Bussey on guitar and vocals, Bad Heaven Ltd. crafts a sound that is as tender as it is destructive; as emotionally packed as it is sonically dense.
Coming to Bad Heaven Ltd. with an eye on Galm’s past work, many would expect a record harkening to the heyday of the emo-revival. And while the sophomore album from Bad Heaven Ltd. is extremely emotional, it eschews emo tropes while digging into a nuanced, poignant, storytelling style akin to the likes of Phil Elverum, Elliott Smith, or Jason Molina.
Bad Heaven Ltd.’s brash songs, full of drone-like feedback bursts and enveloping guitar lines, belie the depths of suffering, both personal and societal, that strength examines. Galm didn’t set out to write an album that touched on the precarious situation of millennials, a generation lost to perpetual war, financial collapse, and the death throes of late capitalism—but in its vignettes, strength does just that. With simple meditations on the innate human desire for connection, community, and friendship, succinct lamentations on depression, and the guilt and joy of being young, carefree, and a complete fuckup. There’s an almost palpable recitation of modern life as a tenant, replete with black mold, crooked floors, exposed pipes, and a refrain of “fuck your landlord, it’s not their home.” Galm has created an intricate cross-section of the life, and survival, of the precariat.
“There’s nothing strong about the song “strength””, Galm says of the lead single and title track. Opening with the line “Strength beyond strength, found my way home, slept out on the porch tonight, declare me the lucky one”, Galm sets the stage for a song he says is about “being young and thinking you’re doing a really good job, but you’re just young and dumb. A young dummy.” “Lucky and bored in love with you” he sings, commenting that it’s about “…shrugging off reality. It’s not realizing how irresponsible you’re being; with yourself, with other people’s feelings, when you’re young and impervious to the realities of what comes next.”
“100” speaks to a deep sense of loneliness, the feeling that someone should be with you but they’re not, while detailing the emotional toll of creating lives in spaces that aren’t our own. “There is a sense that a place can be a complete shithole, but when you have someone to share it with, you can bear it. When you’re alone, it’s unforgiving”, Galm goes on to say that “100” is about “trying to live your life while these external forces control the way we live, dictating how we move about in the world.”
strength is a vulnerable album, with Galm digging into his own experiences to create songs that speak to a pervasive human condition; on “bed,” Galm openly discusses the effects of anxiety and depression. It’s a sincere, frank discussion of mental health, that distills the inability to function through depression while fixating on every interaction that anxiety causes you to agonize over in excruciating detail. ““bed” is about being eaten alive,” Galm says. “It’s about the dream of relief that comes from living with a chronic mental illness.” As the second verse dissolves into an ambient cloud, there’s a sense that the relief we seek can eventually be found, only to be dashed away by a final, and pummeling, wordless chorus.
Bad Heaven Ltd. began in 2016 as a recording project in Galm’s North Philadelphia home. In the wake of several louder, more visceral projects, Galm’s music was beginning to take a new shape: gentle, dynamic and catchy yet retaining the emotionally intense, resonant and viscerally relatable songwriting he’s become known for. These changes were reflected on the debut Bad Heaven Ltd. album cool hell, co-released by Topshelf Records and Square of Opposition Records. Bad Heaven Ltd. spent the bulk of 2018 working on their follow-up LP, strength, with Evan Bernard engineering (Spirit of the Beehive, Mannequin Pussy) at Big Mama’s Studio in Philadelphia. strength due August 2nd, two days before Galm’s 33rd birthday.
5. stick around
7. new boy