Reggae, rock, punk, ska, hip hop – those are the main ingredients that make up the Annapolis-based band Bumpin Uglies. An enigma of sorts, the Bumpin Uglies boys is celebrating a decade of playing music and their punk-rock ethos with their fourth full-length album, Beast From The East. And, yes, this beast of an album is far from tamed. Out on all digital outlets as of April 6th, the 12-track LP is already gaining attention of the masses, escalating up the digital charts with an eclectic mix of tracks to drink, sulk, skank, reflect and react to. After being around the block, Bumpin Uglies has learned a thing or two about people, places and things – that’s for damn sure.
And, yes, this beast of an album is far from tamed.
The album ironically starts off on a ‘you blew it’ vibe, with a track detailing how to show your partner the door. Literally, the first lyrics of “Could’ve Been Great” are “this could’ve been great”… luckily, lead singer Brandon Hardesty wasn’t talking about the LP, just someone he told to kick rocks. With nowhere to go but up in tone and timbre, the second track “City By The Bay” stands as an ode to the boys’ Maryland hometown – a place that remains home, no matter if everything else changes. Yes, we all had great teenage times: drinking at house parties, when ‘Friday’ really meant ‘Friday’, when we had nothing to worry about besides our daily agendas. Growing up, we drift apart from our grade school buddies, the people we were absolutely inseparable with, and have to start caring more about bills and less about friends. Bumpin Uglies proclaims that even now when “most of my friends have moved away” and “the bars we used to sneak in all go by different names”, there’s still no place like home. Ain’t that the truth.
Track three, “Crazy”, kicks up the ska beat, with horn riffs blowing loud over lyrics about a love/hate relationship. The Bumpin Uglies boys apparently prefer to be mind-fuckingly confused over women than ever become bored in a relationship. Sounds like someone in the band is dating a Pisces… or worse, a Scorpio. Track four is a real banger, which is fitting, considering the title is “Hard Liqour”. A tale of woe, what-the-fuck-ever and hoorah, “Hard Liqour” brings out the hip hop side of Bumpin Uglies, with haunting keys and subtle electronica sounds. “Tonight, I’m causing trouble”, Hardesty proclaims, “drinking anything fermented.” Although living it up is the general theme, the track also conspicuously calls out the total destruction that a YOLO lifestyle encapsulates: if this is how you “deal with [your] feelings”, it will inevitably land you a one-way ticket to an AA meeting. Eventually. But, for now, I’m going to “drink a handle and put dumb shit on Twitter” – “in my defense, I was drinking Rumplemintz”! We’ve all been there… Track five, “Bud Tender”, relishes in the fact that weed’s finally legal. Bumpin Uglies calls bud tenders “21st Century bootleggers”, for the fact that you can now make a legal living selling marijuana is a trip.
This is Bumpin Uglies, in all their raw glory – like it or leave it for the radio.
The rest of the album brings social issues to the surface, like police brutality in “Officer O’Herlihy” or obsessive consumerism in “Apathy”. And, not just the outside world needs help either; Bumpin Uglies also addresses mental health issues in “The Waiting Game”, “All In Stride”, “The Show Must Go On” and “Optimism In F”. All of these songs shine a light on the inner workings of a person suffering from anxiety and depression. It’s hard not to be “feelin’ like a victim” when the whole world and its systems seem to be crumbling around you. But, being alive is a blessing in itself, so when you’ve “been burned” or simply “wish you could turn your head off”, just remember that “the show must go on”. You manifest your own happiness like you manifest your own destiny in this life – it can’t be “bought or given”. The lyrical word play in “All In Stride” transcends tangible description, by the way. Well played, Hardesty, well played.
Probably the most standout song on the album’s B-side is track nine, “Radio”. The song starts reggae-rock-punk, moves to a more hip hop-rap style in the second verse and preaches a message similar to ska sensation Reel Big Fish’s “Turn The Radio Off” (one band on the Bumpin Uglies official list of influencers). Lyrics in the track include “10 years and 100 songs written… 10 years in to a genre we don’t fit in”, exposing that Bumpin Uglies knows that they are musical misfits… but don’t care. The band isn’t ready to compromise their sound in order to give the general public trendy garbage music. This is Bumpin Uglies, in all their raw glory – like it or leave it for the radio.
Beast From The East is now available on all digital outlets. With the album’s release, Bumpin Uglies is ready to hit the road this week on an east coast tour that extends through June 23rd. To catch the boys in a town near you or for more information on everything Bumpin Uglies, visit www.bumpinugliesmusic.com.
Stream or purchase Beast From The East album:
- Could’ve Been Great
- City By The Bay
- Hard Liquor
- Bud Tender
- The Waiting Game
- All In Stride
- Officer O’Herlihy
- Show Must Go On
- Optimism In F
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.