Artist: Bomb the Music Industry!
Label: Quote Unquote
Genre: Ska Punk
Released: 15 February 2009
1. Cold Chillin' Cold Chillin'
2. Stuff That I Like
3. It Shits!!!
4. Fresh Attitude, Young Body
5. Wednesday Night Drinkball
8. Gang of Four Meets the Stooges (But Boring)
9. 9/11 Fever!!!
10. (Shut) Up the Punx!!!
11. Can I Pay My Rent in Fun?
12. Saddr Weirdr
13. Sort of Like being Pumped
BOMB THE MUSIC INDUSTRY!
“You're alone and you're wet in a hospital bed
And your family and friends will inherit your debt
As you breathe from machines, yeah, I know it sounds mean
But you're probably gonna die alone”
Your twenties are kind of rough. I’m only 21, so it’s strange to feel that I can say that with any sincerity, considering I’ve hardly even left my teenage years behind. But the insecurity and uncertainty that comes with reaching that third decade of your life is undoubtedly universal. There’s a lot of anxiety surrounding the looming expectations of getting the right job, going to university, and balancing it all with a healthy and fulfilling personal life. And even if you’re set on a certain pathway, it can still feel unsure and precarious. Are you sure that you’re happy in your current line of work? Is this pathway really something that you want to dedicate years of your life to? And the most terrifying of all; are you wasting away during the most formative years of your life with no direction or end goal? Even if you can confidently answer each of those questions, they’ve no doubt intruded into the mind of most people during their twenties. And none of these anxieties are expressed better than in the work of Jeff Rosenstock.
Jeff Rosenstock has spent the majority of his life creating and distributing music, from his teenage years with The Arrogant Sons of Bitches, all the way until present day. And while his music still ruminates on themes of anxiety, manifested by societal, personal, and financial struggles, this sense of angst was captured at its most potent during his days with Bomb the Music Industry. BTMI was formed out of the ashes of The Arrogant Sons of Bitches, with Rosenstock aspiring to create his own label, as well as start a collective that functioned purely off of a ‘Pay what you want’ mentality. And so, years before Radiohead would shock the world with their commercial rollout of “In Rainbows”, Bomb the Music Industry were burning free CDs and spray-painting BYO t-shirts for merchandise. They would play all-ages shows with dirt cheap ticket prices, and released every album online for free download. And while this was economically difficult to uphold, they found that people were far more willing to pay for music and merch when they weren’t being forced to. Because of this unorthodox marketing strategy, the band developed a substantial cult following, and they were able to keep Bomb the Music Industry going purely off the goodwill of their fanbase. But despite this, they still struggled financially throughout this period, and Rosenstock’s anxieties of approaching his 30s with no stable income or conventional job would feed into the band’s music more than ever with their second-last release, “SCRAMBLES”.
Written when Rosenstock was 25, “SCRAMBLES” documents this turbulent period in his life, as he struggles with maintaining a day job that he hates, while balancing it with his true passions of writing and performing music with his band. And this is all achieved through the sheer genius of his songwriting. In “Never Get Tired”, the documentary made about Bomb the Music Industry (Which is an absolute must-watch), J.T. Turret talks about Jeff’s natural ability to create music, stating that he would already be able to hear songs entirely constructed in his head before even writing them. Melodies, harmonies, lyrics, drums; everything. And hearing the end result on albums such as “SCRAMBLES”, “Vacation”, or later under his own name with “We Cool?” or “WORRY”, leads me to believe that this man is an actual musical genius. He’s probably my favourite artist ever, so there’s a fair deal of bias when I say that, but the incredible craftsmanship that Rosenstock displays in each and every one of his songs is palpable to say the least.
There’s no better example of this than in “SCRAMBLES”. While their final album, “Vacation” was a fantastic send-off, its “SCRAMBLES” that I find myself returning to almost every single day, recently. Rosenstock’s lyrical abilities are more powerful than ever here, as he details himself stumbling his way through his twenties; expressing the dichotomy of his frustrations, against the crushing expectations of adult-life, and his own lack of self-esteem in his current circumstances. ‘Fresh Attitude, Young Body’ describes this conflict perfectly. While the track is a sarcastic retaliation against endless societal pressures, it also begins to delve into Rosenstock’s own concerns, as he tumbles into a bottomless pit of anxious thoughts.
The pressure gets the better of him, and what began as minor criticisms quickly spirals into a self-inflicted onslaught of existential dread. And this fear is expressed further on the album’s centrepiece, ‘25!’. It’s a pulsating, anthemic tune that battles with Rosenstock’s issues with self-esteem after moving back in with his parents. As mentioned throughout the last few songs on the record, he’d recently been terminated from his day job, forcing him to move back into his parents’ home. The uncertainty and lack of direction of these circumstances is what fuels much of “SCRAMBLES”, but it’s at its most poignant in ‘25!’. The song flows like a stream of consciousness during the verses, with lines being delivered so frantically that they seem to overlap, often feeling on the verge of collapse. He talks about his frustration with himself, feeling overly dependent on his parents, and lacking any self-initiative, with the track’s punchline even referring to himself as acting like a ten-year-old. It’s a brilliant song, and despite the clear distress of the lyrics, it’s also incredibly fun. And like all of Jeff Rosenstock’s music, the lyricism is both profound, yet also extremely funny.
This is shown all throughout “SCRAMBLES”. While much of the subject matter is really serious, and often sad, Rosenstock has the ability to add the perfect amount of humour into the mix, while still allowing the music to speak volumes. And in most cases, his humour actually reinforces the themes being discussed. In the track ‘Can I Pay My Rent In Fun?’, which describes Jeff receiving his letter of termination in the mail, he sarcastically envisions a conversation with the lady from human resources, as he thanks her for ‘setting him free from an unfulfilling life where he can pay his bills’. It’s funny, yet effective imagery; something he achieves constantly throughout “SCRAMBLES”. And it’s strengthened even further by the sheer energy that he brings in his performances.
From the first few seconds of ‘Stuff that I Like’, Rosenstock’s charisma and vigour is immediately striking. And while there are quieter moments throughout “SCRAMBLES”, such as the opening track ‘Cold Chillin Cold Chillin’, and the sombre ‘Wednesday Night Drinkball’, for the most part the record is absolutely tireless. From start to finish, it’s packed with an incredible amount of energy, which is perfectly used to supplement each and every lyric. Whether it’s in the angered ‘Gang of Four Meets the Stooges (but Boring)’, or the optimistic finale of the record, ‘Sort of Like Being Pumped’, Rosenstock, along with each member of the band, delivers an exhilarating, dynamic performance at each and every turn. And along with the brilliant lyricism and fantastic songwriting, it results in an album that is nothing short of Bomb the Music Industry’s magnum opus.
It’s rare to find an album as consistently fun as “SCRAMBLES”. But what’s even rarer is for it to also be so powerful and nuanced. This album is hilarious, heartbreaking, comforting, and terrifying, all at once; it provides a genuine and affecting perspective on what it means to be lost and anxious in what is supposed to be the best decade of your life. But it’s also a hopeful story about following your passions, regardless of the constant societal pressures to simply find a job that pays well. The existence of “SCRAMBLES” in of itself is a testament to that; this album is a stroke of genius which never would have existed without Jeff Rosenstock putting his passions first. Since he began Bomb the Music Industry, he purely wanted to create fantastic, honest music, while releasing it for free so that literally anyone can enjoy it. And to this day, although Bomb the Music Industry is sadly a thing of the past, he continues to do exactly that. “SCRAMBLES” is a masterpiece, and it’s not the only one that Jeff Rosenstock has managed to make in his career. And although BTMI might be long gone at this point, this album alone cements their legacy as the best god damn punk collective of the last 20 years.
"I'm no better
Smile while pushing through the crowd
A round for friends
Find a corner at the bar, aberrations in a real confusing town"
Reviewed by Layton Bryce - 23/07/2021
6/9/21, 8:39 am
Loved it 😍
5/9/21, 8:53 am
another great review, so proud of u x
31/8/21, 3:24 am
25/8/21, 11:55 am
yay!!! i love this review 🤍
12/8/21, 11:55 am
yay another great review!!! i love it!!!
5/8/21, 9:00 am
a very thoughtful and great review!!!
31/7/21, 12:55 am
such a good review!!!
31/7/21, 12:53 am
God I have been waiting on this review since I first watched Inside and you put it in words perfectly! (I personally would've rated it a 10/10) This review and this special are both amazing!! love love LOVE it!!
27/7/21, 8:56 am
yay!!! love olivia and this review!!!🤍
27/7/21, 6:40 am
Love your reviews! Keep em coming