Sometimes a nightmare like a pandemic can cause sweet albums to fly under the radar, so we want to make sure you guys got a chance to check out Marvelous by The Bottom Dollars. The local Brooklyn band’s self-described “loud, late-night rock n’ roll” is well-captured on this eight-track LP, which marks their return from a three-year hiatus. It can’t be a coincidence that the first and last tracks – “Think!” and “Hint!” – both contain an exclamation point; it’s a nice way to bookend a collection of songs that is so pointed and exciting. The six bandmates, including Cherch, Buffalo Berg, Chris Urriola, Sean Spada, Jeremy Kolker, and Mick Greenwood, have created something that’s destined to get a live crowd dancing (the next time that’s possible).
The dope comic book-style artwork by Ana Asnes Becker, who has previously designed other covers for the bands’ singles, shows two skeletons gazing at each other in space as a burning planet resembling Earth shoots by – a fine match for the album’s cosmic sound. On the release of Marvelous, Chris Urriola (bass and backing vocals) commented, “The band is back together!” Cherch (vocals, guitars, principal songwriter), also told P&W, “Now that it’s out in the ether, Marvelous feels a bit like a dream. The recording process was pure fantasia, going live-to-tape with Tim O’Sullivan (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Anderson Paak), Gibson providing the guitars, everyone in the band as a multi-instrumentalist, expanding to two full drum sets…we’re a very lucky group to have one another and I believe you can hear the fortune within the group dynamics.”
“Berg (drums, guitar, bass) was fairly insistent that I compose a ‘sign-of-the-times piece,’ which (to me) is as exciting as an impetus can get,” Cherch went on to explain. “I wanted to avoid proselytizing and keep each tune lyrically reliant on imagery and philosophy, as opposed to juxtaposing an opinion, which led to a lot of vulnerability as the author. Musically, it was so symbiotic and everyone was so integral to the finished product of what we call Marvelous; it’s humbling. I’m overflowing with gratitude that we were able to see this through into distribution. Also, what Chris said!”
The guitar-powered “Think!” pulls you in with a dreamy, cinematic quality. As bright and beachy as it sounds, this album opener expresses a defeated feeling: “Cause I’m taking a back seat / It’s not important what I think / I’m taking a back seat / It’s not important, I don’t think.” If you’re ready to rock even harder, the titular second track, “Marvelous,” satisfies right away. An uptempo treat that includes contributions from Matt Lange, it surprises by describing a system that tends to be marvelous in a scary way. “Now they are counting up the ballots / They’re running all the data / There are pundits and opinions / There is love and there is hatred / I’m witness to a marvel / I wish it was a lie / Running out of patience / Running out of time.”
The catchy “Eye of a Radio,” which comes with a neat video we covered recently, cleverly plays on the homophonous phrases “eye of a radio” and “I have a radio.” Up next, “St. Laurent, the Apostle” has a comfortable kind of familiarity, like the sonic version of a worn-in leather jacket. Referencing fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, you can’t forget this track’s slick slant rhyme: “It’s a line up the nostril / St. Laurent, the Apostle.” It’s followed by the synthy “Weapon,” a song that is thriller-flick engrossing in both sound and story. It hooks you with the very first line, “Man, the whole block smelled like electrical fire / There were ConEd trucks and a spindle of wire…”
Things slow down a few notches with “Hard Truths,” featuring Cuni, a track that tumbles into an 80s movie vibe and shimmers with witty wordplay: “Big gulp of primordial soup / Hey, I flirt with dysmorphia, too.” The penultimate “Holidays in United States” pins emotive lyrics to an equally earnest, unhurried melody: “Cause everything you’re sold / Is all you’ve got / And everything feels old / And everything you’re told / Is always false / And everything feels old.” Final song, “Hint!” which also features Matt Lange, finishes out the album on an existential note that’s somehow scary and soothing all at once. The Bottom Dollars end Marvelous by repeating, “The whole of our bodies / The whole of our faith / Are just matter and light / And we will be replaced.”
Article: Olivia Isenhart