BODEGA Brushes Up on the Classics on Broken Equipment LP

Photo Credit: Pooneh Ghana

“It’s only when things break down does the presence of the thing reveal itself,” says “Bodega” Ben, a founding member of the Brooklyn “art-punk incendiaries” who release their new full-length record Broken Equipment today on What’s Your Rupture?

He goes on: “What good art does is that it reveals these relationships we take for granted. And I like the pun of broken equipment too, because as artists, at least speaking for myself, we’re essentially damaged goods. We’re damaged people. We’re the jesters out in the world, and because of our pain – this is a gross oversimplification – but I think we can see things that not everybody can. We are broken equipment.”

The band borrowed the phrase from German philosopher Martin Heidegger, whose writings on technology and art and their interconnectivity with how we perceive the world loom large over this record. It all began with a philosophy book club, started in early 2020. The band had already written about a dozen new songs, but then the pandemic happened. Isolation allowed time for the ideas they had been grappling with to sink in. So they wrote more songs, and only about half of the originals made the final cut.

The beginning of the pandemic also brought with it some line-up changes, timing that proved serendipitous as it intersected with the formation of the book club. “De facto” book club leader Adam See is a philosophy professor, but also a bassist. 

“I know him first and foremost as a friend from the music scene, but didn’t really get to know him until we started reading philosophy together,” Ben explains. “I figured out he played a lot more bass than I knew, so it was kind of amazing that he was able to slip into being in the band.”

“A band is a gang, and it’s nice to have everyone bring their own personality, but the gang is the sum of its parts. And our band had that in a musical way, but there was something really special about the book club in the sense that it was rejuvenating for all of us,” he says. “It’s really fun to return to the classics that we had all read as undergrads, but in a non-academic setting. And that sort of bookish nature has slipped over into the band in a way that I think is really fun, which is more important than any books we read. It was the idea of reading together.”

So back to Heidegger. He appealed to BODEGA in the way that he, as Ben says, “puts you back in contact with what it feels like to be present in your body.” They were particularly inspired by his essay “The Question, Concerning Technology,” wherein he writes about man’s relationship with technology.

“We tend to think of technology as this neutral concept,” Ben says. “When a tool’s invented, it’s neutral, people use it, whatever. But his whole idea is that you go back to when the Greeks first invented the word techne, what they were really coining was an ideology of man’s relationship to the world, as he uses the [phrase] ‘standing reserve,’ so seeing everything in the world as a standing reserve.”

What this essentially means is that technology is not at all neutral, as it directly informs our experience with the world we exist in. The “I” you once were fundamentally changed when you held that first iPhone in your hands.

“In modern life, we tend to treat our own friends as standing reserve. We tend to treat our own bodies as standing reserve,” he continues. “What can you do for me? There’s this transactional relationship to everything, that extends to inanimate objects as real people. I feel like that rhymed with a lot of BODEGA concerns.”

Which brings us back to Broken Equipment, a logical next title in a series of albums that deal deeply with the ways capitalism, technology and their intersections have shaped our identities and experiences as humans living in the 21st century: Endless Scroll (2018) and its live counterpart Witness Scroll (2019); Shiny New Model (2019). In a way, that’s what this band is about – they read Heidegger so you don’t have to. They break these weighty ideas down into something more digestible, more palatable even, so that they might transmute these ideas that concern them to others in a way they’ll actually consume.

Vocalist Nikki Belfiglio puts it this way, referencing the American essayist Ellen Willis: “The true prophets [in a communication crisis] are the translators. And I feel like in a sense artistry is like that. We show ourselves almost as prophets, in a pretentious way, but in the way of the true form of pretension, we try to be more than what we are.”

She continues: “What I’m trying to say is artists fulfill this role as translators, and are trying to communicate these things, like broken equipment, things that have broken down and are not yet noticed by society, or uncommunicated in a sense, other than on an art-making level.”

As far as artistic endeavors go, this sounds heavy, ambitious even. But they’re also having fun with it. Part of what makes Broken Equipment such a special record is how evident the love and fun that went into making it is. When they set out to write it, BODEGA was tired of being lumped in with third or fourth-wave post punk bands. They believe in allegiance to artists and songs, more so than genre.

“What we want to do is trace how consciousness is changing,” Ben explains, “[but] people say to us all the time, wow your band is so boring. We get it, I’m on my phone a lot.”

In this sense, you might even note the influence of Martin McLuhan here; on Broken Equipment, the media is the message. BODEGA is all about how the constant bombardment of outside influences shapes us in this over-inundated media landscape, and the ways art, music and media have shaped the band are overwhelming on this album. The influences are all over the chart here – you can of course see hints of other contemporary punk outfits like B Boys, and Ben’s vocals are at times reminiscent of Show Me the Body’s frontman Julian Cashwann Pratt, namely on tracks like “Thrown” and “Doers.”

Which makes sense, given that they infused their sound with a lot of ’90s hip hop sensibilities; artists like Run DMC and Eric B. & Rakim come to mind as you make your way through the record. Gasps of pop and classic rock puncture the noise as well; Nikki says she jokingly refers to album single “Statuette on the Console” as their “Sheryl Crow Ramones song.”

With this, the message comes through as genuine, and never preachy. On opening track “Thrown,” Nikki shouts “Watch the thrown,” a warning as it were, to be on guard for all images and content the world will throw at you today. Ben jumps in to list the many ways he’s “thrown” by the world around him, “big rock ads” and “the itch on my back.”

We’re never free, and neither is BODEGA. But the band practices radical acceptance on Broken Equipment, allowing the many factors that influence them to seep together into something greater than its parts. There’s very little any of us can do on our own to stop the progress of technology as it snowballs more and more insidiously into our lives, for better or for worse. The best you can do is be conscious of it, and with that, maybe even have a little fun with it.

Follow BODEGA on Facebook and Instagram for ongoing updates.

RSVP HERE: Mamalarky Play Bootleg Theater + MORE

Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE: LA Edition– your source for the best shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands. For the month of February we will be featuring LA shows!

Mamalarky are fuzzy jazzy indie darlings who relocated from Austin to Los Angeles a few years ago. The nostalgic feelings their psych pop evokes can be attributed to how far back their band roots stem. Singer/guitarist Livvy Bennet met drummer Dylan Hill on the first day of middle school and soon became musical soul mates. Their keyboardist, Michael Hunter, was only a grade older than them, and found his way into the project after reconnecting with Livvy and having her play bass in his band Hip Modus. After relocating to LA, their lineup was rounded out by bassist Noor Kahn. Last month they released a new music video for their song “Fury” and will be making the rounds in their hometown of Austin for this year’s SXSW festival in March. Your next chance to catch them in LA will be at The Bootleg Theater on 2/23 with Girl Friday and Eyeshadow! We chatted with them about what they were listening to in Middle School, how SXSW has changed over the years, and their band B.O.

AF: What were your favorite records in middle school?

I really liked The Unicorns’ Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone, Proof Of Youth by The Go! Team, and Hello Avalanche by The Octopus Project! Big mix of loud jangly guitars and distorted highly compressed synth hooks!

AF: What’s the story behind your latest music video for “Fury?”

The story is it’s the quickest we’ve ever written, recorded, and filmed a video song haha. It felt like an exercise in spontaneity really. It’s pretty funny watching back and remembering how sweltering it was this summer bouncing on the trampoline!

AF: Why did you relocate from Austin to LA? What are your favorite venues and bands to play with in Austin and in LA?

I got a job at a now defunct record label right out of college, and wanted to try a new place after growing up in Austin. The weather was a big pull too, the beach…it’s a very busy place which I appreciate! In Austin, we love playing Cheer Up Charlies, Barracuda, and Mohawk, ideally with bands like Being Dead, Smiile, or Hey Cowboy!
As far as LA goes I feel like we’re still learning the scene here but we love playing The Bootleg! Local bands we really love are Guppy, Healing Gems, Rosie Tucker, and Jerry Paper! There’s a billion bands here, we’re always discovering more.

AF: If your live set was a perfume, what would it be?

No perfume, no deodorant, straight B.O. <3

AF: Are you going to SXSW this year? What’s been your most interesting time at SXSW and how do you think it’s changed over the years?

Yes! We are SXSW veterans and we’re really excited to be going back again this year. SXSW has changed a lot… the whole interactive/film side grew a lot which has been pretty hectic. The city has grown, so there’s lime scooters everywhere which is a blessing and a curse for South by haha. I think in general it’s a cool place for new artists to play a million shows in front of different audiences for a week. I’m really hoping we never grow out of it. Probably some of our most ‘interesting’ SXs were in the first year or two of us being a band, playing a bunch of house shows. That’s where the true fans are born :)

RSVP HERE for Mamalarky with Girl Friday and Eyeshadow on 2/23 at Bootleg Theatre. 21+ / $10

More great shows this week:

2/21 NO AGE, Wurm 2020, Milo Gonzalez @ The Smell. All Ages RSVP HERE

2/22 Metronomy, BODEGA, Faux Real @ Fonda Theatre. $32.50 RSVP HERE

2/23 Zig Zags, The Well @ Permanent Records Roadhouse. RSVP HERE

2/24 Hnry Flwr, Cardioid, Chazzy L. @ Moroccan Lounge. 21+ / $12 RSVP HERE

 2/24 Hit Bargain, A Deer A Horse, Enemy @ Permanent Records Roadhouse. 21+ / RSVP HERE

 2/26 Soccer Mommy @ Amoeba Records. Free RSVP HERE

2/26 Neil Hamburger, Special Guests @ The Satellite. 21+ / $8 RSVP HERE

2/27 Flor de Toloache @ Lodge Room Highland Park. 21+ RSVP HERE

2/27 Bundy, Bloody Death Skull, Fellow Robot @ The Hi Hat. 21+ / $12-15 RSVP HERE

AF 2018 IN REVIEW: Our Favorite Albums and Singles of the Year

Here we are again! As the new year approaches, it’s time to look back and take stock of the albums and singles that defined this moment in music history. 2018 was an eclectic year, to say the least, and there are a lot of new names on the list: Tirzah, Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy, Noname, King Princess, and Kali Uchis all had phenomenal debuts this year, not to mention the inimitable Cardi B, who made good on the promise of last year’s smash hit “Bodak Yellow” with Invasion of Privacy in April. There were established artists who still managed to surprise us, whether in the form of unearthed Prince demos, The Arctic Monkeys’ loungey sci-fi concept album, Tim Hecker introducing us to ancient Japanese court music, Dev Hynes making his most personal Blood Orange record yet, or Lil Wayne finally dropping Tha Carter V. And then there are those artists who fall somewhere in between, their ascendant careers a thrill to watch as 2018 saw them finally hit their stride. US Girls. Yves Tumor. serpentwithfeet. And perhaps most spectacularly, Mitski and Janelle Monáe.

As each of our writers (and editors, too) created their own mini-lists, those were two names that kept cropping up, and there’s no doubt you’ve seen them on just about every year-end list on the interwebs. If there’s any chance you haven’t heard Be The Cowboy or Dirty Computer, by all means, fire up that Spotify Premium post haste. But the recommendations here are as diverse as our writers themselves, so we hope you’ll take time to explore some of the lesser-known, hardly hyped artists we’ve highlighted, too – and keep your eyes peeled for more year-end coverage as we cruise in to 2019.


  • Marianne White (Executive Director)

    Top 10 Albums:
    1) boygenuis – boygenius
    2) Soccer Mommy – Clean
    3) Nenah Cherry – Broken Politics
    4) Mitski – Be the Cowboy
    5) serpentwithfeet – soil
    6) CupcakKE – Ephorize
    7) Blood Orange – Negro Swan
    8) Autechre – NTS Sessions 1-4
    9) Snail Mail – Lush
    10) Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
    Top 5 Singles:
    1) Let’s Eat Grandma – “Hot Pink”
    2) Jon Hopkins – “Emerald Rush”
    3) The Internet – “Look What You Started”
    4) Cardi B, Bad Bunny, J Balvin – “I Like It”
    5) boygenius – “Bite The Hand”

  • Lindsey Rhoades (Editor-in-Chief)

    Top 10 Albums:
    1) Low – Double Negative
    2) US Girls – In A Poem Unlimited
    3) Madeline Kenney – Perfect Shapes 
    4) Yves Tumor – Safe In The Hands of Love
    5) DJ Koze – Knock Knock
    6) Caroline Rose – Loner
    7) Tim Hecker – Konoyo
    8) Virginia Wing – Ecstatic Arrow
    9) Frigs – Basic Behaviour
    10) bedbug – i’ll count to heaven in years without seasons
    Top 10 Singles:
    1) Janelle Monáe – “Make Me Feel”
    2) Loma – “Black Willow”
    3) The Breeders – “All Nerve”
    4) SOPHIE – “Is It Cold In The Water?”
    5) Jonathan Wilson – “Loving You”
    6) Empath – “The Eye”
    7) Sibile Attar – “Paloma”
    8) Jono Ma & Dreems – “Can’t Stop My Dreaming (Of You)”
    9) Shopping – “Discover”
    10) Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – “Dunce”

  • Mandy Brownholtz (Social Media)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Miserable – Lover Boy/Dog Days
    2) Snail Mail – Lush
    3) Mitski – Be The Cowboy
    4) Teyana Taylor – K.T.S.E.
    5) Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Nothing – “Blue Line Baby”
    2) Hinds – “The Club”
    3) Mitski – “Nobody”

  • Lauren Zambri (Events)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Amen Dunes – Freedom
    2) US Girls – In A Poem Unlimited
    3) Beach House – 7
    4) Iceage – Beyondless
    5) Tirzah – Devotion
    Top 5 Singles:
    1) Jenny Hval – “Spells”
    2) US Girls – “Velvet 4 Sale”
    3) Yves Tumor – “Licking An Orchid”
    4) Amen Dunes – “Believe”
    5) Low – “Always Trying to Work it Out”


  • Ashley Prillaman (Premieres, AudioMama)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Alice Ivy – I’m Dreaming
    2) Sudan Archives – Sink
    3) Marlon Williams – Make Way For Love
    4) Earth Girl Helen Brown – Venus
    5) Rüfüs Du Sol – Solace
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Rhye – “Taste”
    2) Alice Ivy – “Chasing Stars”
    3) Sudan Archives – “Nont For Sale”

  • Tarra Thiessen (Check the Spreadsheet)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) DRINKS – Hippo Lite
    2) Shannon & the Clams – Onion
    3) Lost Boy ? – Paranoid Fiction
    4) Prince – Piano & a Microphone 1983 
    5) Sloppy Jane – Willow
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Public Practice – “Fate/Glory”
    2) The Nude Party – “Chevrolet Van”
    3) Big Bliss – “Surface”

  • Natalie Kirch (Pet Politics)

    Top 10 Releases Out of the Brooklyn DIY Scene (in Chronological Order):
    1) THICK — Would You Rather? (Self-Released)
    2) BODEGA — Endless Scroll (What’s Your Rupture?)
    3) Baked — II (Exploding In Sound)
    4) Pecas — After Dark (Broken Circles)
    5) Big Bliss – At Middle Distance (Exit Stencil Recordings)
    6) Kevin Hairs — Freak In The Streets (GP Stripes)
    7) PILL – Soft Hell (Mexican Summer)
    8) Stove – ‘s Favorite Friend (Exploding In Sound)
    9) Lost Boy ? – Paranoid Fiction (Little Dickman Records/ Rich Moms)
    10) Janet LaBelle – I Only See You (Loantaka Records)

  • Sara Barron (Playing Detroit)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Kali Uchis – Isolation
    2) Blood Orange – Negro Swan
    3) Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
    4) Mitski – Be the Cowboy
    5) Noname – Room 25
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Ama Lou – “Tried Up”
    2) Britney Stoney – “OD”
    3) Janelle Monáe – “PYNK”

  • Luci Turner (Playing Atlanta)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) The Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
    2) The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
    3) Charles Bradley – Black Velvet
    4) Brandi Carlile – By The Way, I Forgive You
    5) Jack White – Boarding House Reach
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) The Raconteurs – “Now That You’re Gone”
    2) Mac Miller – “2009”
    3) Dead Naked Hippies – “Rare”

  • Victoria Moorwood (Playing Cincy)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
    2) Lil Wayne – Tha Carter V
    3) J. Cole – KOD
    4) Preme – Light of Day
    5) Jazz Cartier – Fleurever
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Lil Wayne feat. Reginae Carter – “Famous”
    2) Cardi B – “Thru Your Phone”
    3) J. Cole – “Brackets”

  • Desdemona Dallas

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Noname – Room 25
    2) Flatbush Zombies – Vacation In Hell
    3) Mountain Man – Magic Ship
    4) Lucy Dacus – Historian
    5) Nao – Saturn
    Top 3 Singles:
    1)  Janelle Monáe – “Make Me Feel”
    2) Twin Shadow – “Saturdays”
    3) Sudan Archives – “Nont For Sale”

  • Erin Rose O’Brien

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Mitski — Be The Cowboy
    2) Antarctigo Vespucci — Love in the Time of E-mail
    3) Car Seat Headrest — Twin Fantasy
    4) Soccer Mommy — Clean
    5) Janelle Monáe — Dirty Computer
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Bad Moves — “Cool Generator”
    2) The Beths — “Future Me Hates Me”
    3) Miya Folick — “Stop Talking”

  • Ysabella Monton

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Mitski – Be The Cowboy
    2) Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
    3) Brockhampton – Iridescence
    4) Soccer Mommy – Clean
    5) Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) King Princess – “1950”
    2) Childish Gambino – “This is America”
    3) Pusha T – “If You Know You Know”

CHECK THE SPREADSHEET: Touring Across the Pond

Sharkmuffin charms Robert Plant

The story goes that Jimi Hendrix was unknown in the States before he traveled to the U.K. It was only after his time across the pond that he returned as our beloved shredding icon. It can happen to you too! His spirit is still there, and Sharkmuffin may have encountered it on our first trip to the U.K. in 2017.

After one of our sets, I placed my Gibson Les Paul upside down against the guitar amp and left it there for too long, cracking the wood between the neck and the headstock. When I packed up my gear I thought that I had only broken a couple strings. The following day when we arrived at Mello Festival, security told us that Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin would be hanging around the back of our smaller stage; we all freaked out realizing he might watch our set.

When I went to change my guitar strings I discovered my guitar was irreparably damaged, but we strangely had an extra guitar case in our van. Inside was a sunburst Fender Stratocaster with a bunch of burn marks on it. We had no idea where it came from and I wasn’t even sure it would work. The only obvious logical explanation was that the ghost of Jimi Hendrix sent me one of the strats he sacrificed to the guitar gods in my time of rock ‘n’ roll need. We successfully played our set and even awkwardly said hello to Plant. Then he drove his green convertible jaguar over the hills into the sunset wailing “Been a long time since I rock n rollllll’d.”

Though it may seem daunting, an overseas tour isn’t out of reach for a DIY band. We talked to Miss Eaves, Bodega and my bandmates in Sharkmuffin about their tips and experiences touring the magical lands of the United Kingdom. 

Photo credit: Sarah Jacobs

Miss Eaves

“Having a well-paying ‘anchor gig’ is good if you can land one (like a festival or a big club night) and that way you have a date that you can plan all of the rest of your dates around. I made a map of cities that were no more than a 3-4 hour train ride and then locked in dates around that. Once I identified the cities I reached out to spaces where I thought my fan base would hang out (mostly queer/DIY/feminist spaces & bookers) It is really important to be very specific when reaching out because its easier to sell yourself when you are not sending a generic spam email. When I was promoting my shows I ran some Facebook ads in the different cities and I also made this silly promo video. Booking my own tour was very challenging but also rewarding.”

Photo credit: Kevin W Condon



One of the more unique shows we’ve ever played was at a library in Birkenhead. Surrounded by books underneath a skylight on a blistering hot afternoon, I tried to channel a literary energy, citing quotations from a text and finding new associations within the BODEGA words. After the show, we met a wonderful Birkenheadian family that let us stay at their home for two days. The parents and children were all loving and devout music fans – later that night they took us over the river into Liverpool to show us Beatle sites and took us drinking at a local pub. The next day we had a bit of a jam session (Beatles and Velvets) and their son smoked us all in video games. It was very inspiring to see rock culture celebrated and shared by an entire family.


When we travel, we often book separate connecting flights in order to save money. However, in July, this backfired on us. After a flight from Spain was delayed by several hours, four of us missed a connecting flight in London back to NYC and were thus down several thousand pounds and stuck in London. Luckily we were able to crash at a good friend’s house (our London promoter). The next day we bought super cheap tix online only to find out at the airport that this third party website scammed us (this is why they were so cheap…) and this flight to NYC did not exist. We eventually got refunded and made it back to NYC and are now much more cautious when booking band flights. The silver lining of this fiasco was hearing a track of ours on BBC6 in a taxicab driving back from the airport after missing the first flight. What a thrill to hear yourself over the air!


  • Hydrate! Pedialite helps.
  • Eat healthy. Veggies are important.
  • Be wiling to explore (physically and mentally). Try to walk around whatever town you are in. Try new music in the van. Read new books. Listen more than you talk. Enjoy the ride.


Photo credit: Nick Gough


Natalie Kirch’s tour tips:

  • Always remember the worth of a pound is not the same as a dollar! Keep up-to-date on conversion rates to make sure you’re being smart with your money and reasonable with your merch sales.
  • Pack as lightly as possible on any tour, but especially overseas where you have luggage fees.
  • Loosen the strings on your instruments before boarding with them or sending them off in the luggage!
  • Bring a handheld fan because the U.K. is not used to heat waves. If you find yourselves stuck in the rare one like we did, there is no AC anywhere.
  • Bring heavy duty earplugs if you’re a light sleeper. You never know when you’ll end up with a snorer in the group.

Jordyn Blakely:

I don’t think I drank tea once, and I don’t think I saw any crumpets, but I did see hot dogs ‘ready to eat’ in a can, buns not included. This trip changed a lot of my perceptions of what Americans assume everyday life in the U.K. can be. Being in different regions of the country besides the big cities and hearing how the dialect and slang varies tells you a lot about what the people are like and what they care about. Nottingham was a rowdy show, with a lot of energetic people who wanted to participate and interact, and party late after into the night. This wasn’t as common at other shows where people sometimes seemed more polite or maybe shy. One of their beloved expressions is “‘choo on about?” which is basically supposed to mean “What the hell are you talking about?” Sharkmuffin also adopted the term ‘knackered’, meaning tired, exhausted, or hungover. After doing some research it turns out there are tons of classic Nottingham sayings we missed, all of them sassy but said with love.

I loved the combination of modern life mixed with ancient and classic architecture; old timey pubs turned rock venues, miniature cathedrals turned EDM clubs. It feels like entering a time machine. One of my favorite shows was in Norwich, at Norm’s (named in honor of comedian Norm Macdonald), an event at The Crypt curated by my friend Jason Baldock. It’s in the cellar of the venue, with flying buttresses along the ceiling, very dark and gothic. That’s when you KNOW you’re playing a show in England. We played with Elle Bishop, Peach Club, and Fever Machine, all really great bands with sweet people. We stayed at a farm house in the countryside that has a chicken coop and we got to walk around and look at stars.

Cardiff was another favorite place – it’s just so beautiful, particularly Llandaff Fields – and Welsh culture is very fascinating to me. My mom texted me saying to try a “Welsh cuppa” so on the morning we left we tried ordering it at a cafe, only to get the reply, “A cuppa what, dear?” Apparently that is not a thing; maybe auto-correct is to blame for this one. But we did try Welsh cakes – tiny sand-dollar shaped pancakes with raisins inside.

More tips on how to make your U.K. tour a success…

  • Budget yourself and save up money beforehand. Unless you’ve secured relatively high guarantees, between gear, van rentals and the exchange rate being so steep you will probably go out of pocket for a portion of the trip.
    • Pro Tip: Pretend pounds are pirate money.
  • Visas are relatively cheap. Obtaining a work visa to go to the U.K. as an American is significantly cheaper than the other way around. Our agent referred us to a sponsor who took care of it for 250 pounds a couple weeks prior.
    • Pro Tip: Don’t be a dick at the border, they can easily send you home.
  • When it comes to flights, apps like Hopper or Google Flights are really helpful at tracking the lowest priced flights. Our experience with Virgin Atlantic was amazing. They gave us two free alcoholic beverages and like three meals, plus a free checked back and they didn’t give us any shit for having to carry our guitars on board.
  • Flying with your gear: I will throw a temper tantrum if an airline won’t let me carry my guitar on. Luckily, I haven’t had to do this. Your gear is usually considered a larger “personal item,” and if they don’t have room in a closet or overhead in the flight cabin, they will gate check it (put it under the plane and then return it to you immediately when you get off the plane). When I have a larger road case for my guitar pedals and I pack my pedals into my carry on backpack and pack my clothing into the pedal board and switch the contents of the bags when I arrive. It’s easier to replace clothes than guitar pedals if the airline loses it!  
  • Ask around when finding a rental/tour manager. We were originally quoted almost double the amount of what it cost from a friend’s recommendation. If you don’t know anyone, find bands at your level who have done similar tours and reach out to ask if they know any reliable and affordable TM/van/rental hires.
  • Food
    • Cheapest beer/wine lives at Aldi.
    • Tesco pesto pasta is a Sharkmuffin favorite. We are a fan of their meal deals.
    • Indian food and Thai food are the best! There’s even a “curry mile” in Manchester of only Indian food restaurants.

ALBUM REVIEW: Shilpa Ray Triumphs Over NYC With ‘Door Girl’

New York, the city that never sleeps, takes an especially hard toll on those who make its endless nights possible: the waiters, the bartenders, the ticket takers who silently put up with endless shit from drunken idiots. The service industry is favored by artists who need to pay their bills, but at what cost? Shilpa Ray provides insight into this experience on Door Girl, an album that recognizes the soul crushing realities of working in the nightlife industry while ultimately overcoming them. A longtime New Yorker whose “day job” inspired the title of her latest release, Ray is more than qualified to expound on the topic.

Door Girl contains moments that are both beautiful and brutal, sometimes at the same time. Songs such as “Morning Terrors Nights of Dread” and “Add Value Add Time” use comforting, doo-wop vibe to gloss over topics such as anxiety over work, broken dreams and the isolation that comes with city life. Ray has a rich, deep voice that can create a dreamy atmosphere, even if she’s singing about creeps in Manhattan who prey on drunk women. But on “EMT Police And The Fire Department” she switches to a snarl in an instant. The song explodes with rage after a monologue that sets the scene for a night of disaster: “The air was so thick you could cut it with a knife/The sweating crowds so thick it could make you want to cut them with a knife.” From her post, she’s both an innocent bystander and complicit in the madness, screaming, “I’m charging eight dollars to go to hell, it’s right upstairs.”

“Revelations Of A Stamp Monkey” takes a completely different approach, with weary spoken lyrics over a hip-hop beat and a verse of rapping by Skurt Vonnegut. The humor of a repeated line – “Popped collar, who popped the collar/Muffin top” creates a stark contrast to one of the album’s most poignant lines, “You wanna know where my heart went? It went straight to making the rent.” 

There was no better venue to debut Door Girl than Pianos, the very place that inspired “EMT Police And The Fire Department.” Located right in the middle of the Lower East Side’s infamous Hell Square, the area explodes with rambunctious crowds on the weekend. But last Wednesday it was calm, the venue packed but politely focused on Ray’s performance. The audience seemed drawn completely into her world, her commanding presence casting a show-tunes glow over the whole affair. The touristy Statue of Liberty crown she wore made the whole thing even more endearing. Maybe it was a reminder of how someone feels when they first move to the city, when it seems romantic and exciting; before the frustrations of the MTA, the high rent and dread of a dead end job grind them down. Maybe it was a symbol of perseverance, that it’s worth it to live in such a demanding place. Or maybe it was just an ironic prop. Either way, it was a perfect accessory for an album that exposes both sides – the magic and the mayhem – of of New York’s hustle and bustle.