ELEVEN JAW-DROPPING FACTS about Brooklyn’s Controversial Art Rock Sensation BODEGA and their HIT ALBUM “Broken Equipment” Which May SURPRISE YOU! (Plus, Five Signs YOUR CAT May Be a WIZARD!)

Photo by Pooneh Ghana

01. The title BROKEN EQUIPMENT refers to the notion that “things that are broken reveal” (SOURCE) such as, for instance, physical pain revealing the need for bodily healing, civic upheavals revealing the widening fault lines of society, or glitching tech revealing the hidden SCHEMES behind their own SCHEMATICS, but where such “breakages” may lead one to “break away” from outmoded MODES OF BEING AND KNOWING alongside transformations in personal and collective consciousness. You can listen to BROKEN EQUIPMENT in its entirety on BANDCAMP or SPOTIFY or wherever records and tapes are sold.

02. On an episode of “Carpool Karaoke” that aired several year back hosted by late night funnyman JAMES GORDEN, the members of BODEGA addressed their long-running feud with TAYLOR SWIFT alongside allegations that BODEGA had poached several members of TAYLOR’s backup dancer troupe (MS. SWIFT if you’re nasty!) from her LAS VEGAS residency dates, which led to the band penning the hit song "HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!" as heard on their debut LP ENDLESS SCROLL.

03. The first track on BODEGA’s BROKEN EQUIPMENT opens by name-checking KANYE WEST and JAY-Z’s WATCH THE THRONE but in homonym form (i.e., “watch the thrown!” as in watch out for all the s*** that gets thrown your way in today’s accelerated culture) in a song (“Thrown”) that’s basically about achieving self-actualization via consumer choice among other topics.

And the similarities don’t end there either because Broken Equipment just like Watch the Throne addresses themes of power and paranoia, disaster capitalism, entrepreneurial ambition (“Doers” equals “HAM”?), religion (“Statuette on the Console” equals “No Church in the Wild”?), and sexual politics (“Territorial Call of the Female” equals “She’s My Bitch”?) all put across with a TWITCHY MUSICAL INTENSITY and EJACULATORY SPRECHSTIMME VOCALS traded between two frontpersons.

04. Percussionist/vocalist NIKKI BELFIGLIO once triggered a news-cycle dominating scandal during a live appearance on MAD TV when she tore up a photo of GEORGE BURNS playing the part of GOD in the 1977 cinematic sensation OH GOD despite claims elsewhere that she holds a "certain reverence for the symbols of religion."

05. BODEGA grew out of an earlier band called BODEGA BAY that likewise featured co-frontpersons BEN HOZIE and the aforementioned NIKKI that released one full-length record titled OUR BRAND COULD BE YOUR LIFE (2017) whose title is a pretty great pisstake on indie rock piety while not denying its charms.

What’s more, Bodega Bay is a REAL PLACE best known as the setting for Alfred Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS, which is fitting since both BODEGA BAY and BODEGA were/are fixated on the porous boundaries between fact and fiction, reality and virtuality, art and commerce. Also, in addition to being a musician and songwriter BEN is also a real-world filmmaker and his films—such as 2020’s PVT CHAT starring JULIA FOX of Uncut Gems fame and guess what we have a second KANYE WEST CONNECTION—deal with many of the same themes as his songs.

06. The shortening of BODEGA BAY to BODEGA (alongside a lineup change that established a new creative approach based around a set of twelve musical commandments with one rule being “no references to garage rock”) is equally fitting because another of BODEGA’s major fixations is NEW YORK CITY itself.

Just listen to “NYC (DISAMBIGUATION)” if you don’t believe me with its nuanced depiction of the city’s past and present in all its dialectical complexity—both the land of immigrants and of craven opportunists—and truly there’s nothing more QUINTESSENTIALLY NYC than the CORNER BODEGA STORE. Thus BODEGA’s Broken Equipment provides a perfect soundtrack for picking up a package of Swishers, a dusty tin of cat food, a package of UTZ PICKLE CHIPS and maybe even some unregulated SEXUAL SUPPLEMENTS at 2:30 in the morning.

07. Anyone who’s seen BODEGA play live knows that they’re a juggernaut on stage and knows it’s impossible to pry one’s eyes from the interplay between “stand up percussionist” TAI LEE and NIKKI BELFIGLIO’s ferocious assaults on a hi-hat cymbal (no one in this band sits down!) tho’ it should be noted former percussionist Montana Simone is featured in the video below. When I caught BODEGA at MARKET HOTEL a few months before The Great Lockdown began (with SURFBORT and WEEPING ICON no less!) TAI somehow bloodied her nose early on and spent the rest of the set with the red stuff pouring down her face and turning her white tank top crimson whilst still pounding on her drums like a bloody banshee so that by the end of the show she resembled the female protagonist of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and it was a glorious thing.

08. BODEGA recruited current bassist ADAM SEE thanks to his role in a book club band members had formed to discuss heavy-duty philosophical texts whilst writing and recording Broken Equipment with some sample titles including Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire, Between Past and Future by Hannah Arendt, and The Question Concerning Technology and Building Dwelling Thinking by Martin Heidegger.

The penultimate song on Broken Equipment is called “Seneca the Stoic” which applies the teachings of its namesake Roman philosopher to the life of a touring musician and truly if this song doesn’t make you wanna bop around your bedroom during its anything-but-stoic buildling-but-never-releasing cascading chord progression then I don’t know what will. And finally, after all the high-wire musical tension and philosophical ruminations of the preceding eleven tracks, Broken Equipment‘s album closer “After Jane” is a startlingly stripped-down, emotionally direct and quite touching tribute to BEN’s late mother.  

09. Broken Equipment was co-produced between the band and live mixer/producer/songwriter/friendly neighbor BOBBY LEWIS (formerly of TEENAGE OCTOPUS and MUSTARDMIND) who also has a recent production credit on KID LE CHAT‘s Hey Sunny. This is likewise the first BODEGA record to feature noted Baltimore-based “guitar maestro” DANIEL RYAN although he’s been playing with BODEGA live since 2019.

10. On June 10th and 11th Bodega opens for THE KILLS at BROOKLYN STEEL. And not for nothing THE KILLS formed in 2001 which is the very same year that THE KILLERS also formed but admittedly this writer prefers THE KILLS to that other band (sorry, BRANDON!) and I couldn’t really see BODEGA opening for THE KILLERS so let’s just hope BODEGA don’t get their wires crossed and end up opening for the wrong band.

11. The final “jaw-dropping fact which may surprise you” has more to do with your humble blogging correspondent than with BODEGA specifically but it’s still a "jaw-dropping fact which may surprise you" and hey I’m the one writing this damn listicle so I’m including it anyway. The first number of times I listened to the advance single “Doers” it totally sounded to me like BEN was singing, “This city’s made for the doers / the movers, shakers / helpful reviewers,” and I was so happy to be indirectly referenced in a cool BODEGA song that I was originally going to write about their new album the day it came out.

But then it turned out that the last line of the lyric above is actually “health food reviewers” and not “helpful reviewers” and ain’t that a kick in the head (guess I shoulda consulted the LYRIC SHEET!) so me being a typically petty, small-minded music blogger I waited a couple months to write about Broken Equipment despite its considerable quality and did it in the form of a FuzzBead piece like you have befeore you here even though I’m not a HEALTH FOOD REVIEWER. (JASON LEE)


And now, with no further ado, here are the FIVE SIGNS THAT YOUR CAT MAY BE A WIZARD:

1) YOUR CAT keeps several HOUSE-ELVES as servants; 2) YOUR CAT fervently believes that OZZY OSBOURNE’s HARMONICA SKILLS are vastly underrated; 3) YOUR CAT advocates a SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE based around WATERY TARTS DISTRIBUTING SWORDS to future absolute rulers; 4) YOUR CAT is to this day upset that SELENA GOMEZ “wrecked her career” by breaking up with THE SCENE and donning a NEON-HUED BIKINI for HARMONY KORINE’s indie sleaze cinematic sensation SPRING BREAKERS; 5) YOUR CAT plays bass in a WIZARD ROCK BAND