Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
A pretty mediocre Nightline piece a few nights ago, gives us our lede for this encore session with Philadelphia band Drink Up Buttercup, a four man group of men focused on the strange, disjointed and by-the-book hooks. It was a story about the relative seclusion that the sons and daughters of notorious serial killers put themselves through in fear that they'll be judged by what their fathers before them did and left for the world to try and figure out how anyone could do such a thing. They talked with the son of the DC Sniper, John Allen Muhammad, and the son of Jim Jones, of the leader of the Peoples Temple and the sick mastermind behind the 1978 mass suicide of 900 followers in Jonestown, Guyana, and what was both confirmed and negated was that genetics, not environment created those two madmen and their children are not the same people. Muhammad's son is a present father and seems okay with everything, believing that he didn't turn out like his father because he wasn't raised by him. Jones' son admitted that it's hard not to see the similarities and the tendencies to want to manipulate, the burning craziness inside at times, having been in Guyana at the time of the mass suicide, but off playing basketball, as a 19-year-old man. While the serial killers remain out of the music that this fantastic band write and record, the idea of hard-to-describe tendencies and the odd ways that people grow into themselves sometimes are at the cusp of much of what it does artistically, asking in verse and refrain, "How did this all happen and what's to become of us because we're stumped? What's happening here?" The band's Yep Roc debut, "Born And Thrown On A Hook," delves into these thoughtful ideas of existence and what it takes someone to turn out right and make the right calls, even when it seems like biology and the gods are stacking every goddamn odd against them. Lead singer James Harvey takes the approach that these are things beyond our control and there are abnormalities that are just as uncontrollable. On this brief, two-song session, the coupling couldn't be much better, with the album track, "Gods and Gentlemen," preceding an unreleased song, "One Big Organ," offering us a version of the grand, epic mess of the Gods getting the better of us and then dealing with a self-imposed handicap, when love or the penis makes us idiots. Harvey sings on "Gods and Gentlemen" about the gods spying on the poor saps down on the ground, making it gaming to place bets on who's gonna turn out rotten and who might have a chance of make out alright. They don't seem to leave much up to chance, preferring to believe in genetics and destiny taking the wheel and throwing the vehicles into the ditches with swift yankings. He sings, "The gods are forgiven/They got these kids wishin' they had somewhere to run hide/They suspect that the rain clouds had lightning bolts just to point at them when they cry../They're spied at night/And they spy their gods playing gentlemen and planning out how each kid would be a mess/The kids wished they didn't know." The song prances and it soars and "One Big Organ" does the same, but takes us where we tend to believe that it's all our own faults and there's no getting out of it, with Harvey singing, "When your brain and your heart are one big organ, son, you don't think right," so we're still left without the answers, but the music makes up for it.
Drink Up Buttercup's Debut Daytrotter Session