It somehow makes all the sense in the world that upbeat, grungy, alternative rock band, The Bummers, hail from the cobbled streets of New Orleans – being a band of four distinct personalities who make music staunchly unconcerned with providing a neatly trimmed stylistic picture – letting their artistic inclinations meld together with the kind of fun unpredictability and easy-going friendliness for which New Orleans is known beloved. Yet at the same time, the quartet’s music sounds decidedly detached from much of the historic city’s sonic and cultural roots, seemingly fit for alignment with the kind of casual but famed clubs and well-lived in neighborhood venues of hot spots like Boston, East Nashville, Brooklyn, or Austin.
And indeed, The Bummers have played around their fair share of U.S. music spaces, from local spots around their Louisiana stomping grounds, all the way up the eastern U.S. coastline through North Carolina, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and into New York City. A band determined to give their 2018 debut album, A Very Exciting Life (Nut Milk Records, 2018), as much support via live performance as they could, this group was left to face quarantine like the rest of the world and as such prolific travelers, one might wonder if The Bummers would succumb with severity, to the emo-leaning, side of their style, with future offerings taking on a strong sense of emotional reservation or dynamic restraint due to the stagnancy of staying at home and separate for several months. However, much like the rest of the music community the world over, The Bummers didn’t wallow in a standing puddle of sadness and let their musicianship atrophy whilst apart and the result of that persistence is new single, “Quitman.”
The Bummers are:
Sean Doyle (Vocals, Guitar)
Ben Shooter (vocals, Guitar)
Clay Hakes (Bass)
Fox Capone (Drums)
Those just getting acquainted with The Bummers for the first time are in for a well-constructed treat. “Quitman” is a song that’s succinct but also undeniably encompasses the mixed musical amalgam The Bummers have endeared themselves to over time. Right away, “Quitman” starts off with a dense 16 bar introduction that is dominated by Doyle and Shooter’s thick-toned, deeply intertwined electric guitars. While the hook itself isn’t excessively versatile in its pitch movement, the subtle chord changes happening underneath the rhythmically driven opening are enough to grab the ear and establish a strong groove ahead of the rest of the song. Capone’s drumming on the snare and cymbal bell tones in between the downbeat strums only solidifies the hook even more.
When the vocals and the lyrics kick in, there’s a immediate note of tonal contrast, as Doyle’s voice isn’t given the degree of effectual shaping that the instrumental backing preceding him did. There’s a slight amount of reverb present, which makes the addition of his new part slide in among the rest of the music with a more seamless and easily adjustable transition. However for the most part, Doyle’s voice (and eventually Shooter’s as well) and their actual performances, are left alone enough to come across as somewhat straightforward by comparison. This isn’t to say Doyle’s performance lacked. Rather, to the contrary, the deliberate choice to keep his singing to a notable restrained level of emotional output plays well into the namesake of the band and very the lyrical concept behind “Quitman” itself.
I’m gonna follow through this time
You know that’s what I always say
But once again it’s easier
And more comfortable to walk away
Commitment is my intent
But my existence is to quit
I’m always late and I’m never on it
Another night of vomit
– Lyrics from “Quitman”
A song that details the mindset of an individual who vacillates between apathy, aloofness, self-awareness, and the faintest glimmer of desire for self-improvement, having the figure at hand be embodied by a vocal that manages to evoke touches of all those moods, works very well in the song’s favor. It’s not the most danceable kind of alternative rock out there but “Quitman” definitely delivers nicely with regard to providing a dynamic heaviness that manages to retain a distinguishable amount of melodic quality. While the guitars and bass start the song feeling larger in their presence because of longer sustains and a cavernous metallic sound quality – both fitting of emo and post-rock styles – as “Quitman” progresses, the approach to the guitars layering shifts to a distinctly more melodic focus, tightly harmonizing with reliable intervals and parallel rhythms. It’s reminiscent of Weezer-style power-pop interludes: melodic without letting up on the boldness of the established alternative rock intensity.
Overall, The Bummers channel the sentiment of their name well thanks to good consideration around the production and performative direction of “Quitman.” However, they are more than capable of backing the assertion that they don’t conform to one stylistic strictness or allow whatever blend the band concocts on its own to become the default stagnant norm. The stylistic wheel of “Quitman” undoubtedly rolls around the stylistic landmarks of several genres but The Bummers are shrewd enough to turn to different elements of their music – whether it be the instruments, their sound, the placement, the execution, or all of the above at the same time – to achieve their desired musical variety without creating a feeling of whiplash or sonic indecision.
Check out “Quitman” below and look for more music from The Bummers this summer!
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