I could spoil the answer but where’s the fun in that?
“Meet Australia’s Next Big Alternative Music Export…” read the email header that Penultimate Records sent me recently in relation to Bukowski and their debut EP, June’s ‘grow up. give up. let go.‘. Not to be confused with the Argentinian crust/metal band of the same name (which is highly unlikely) and is a band moniker that was no doubt taken from either Modest Mouse’s or Moose Blood’s own song about the titular 20th century author, this Melbourne group are apart of Australia’s fresh blood of emo punk.
For those who don’t know, the band are comprised of current and former members of recent Hopeless Records lads Between You and Me, as well as fellow pop-punk acts Satellites and Sidelines. Crossover band line-up’s aside, however, are Bukowski and their dulcet, grungy sad-boy tunes indeed the next big thing for Australian rock as that aforementioned email so largely declared?
Well, that’ll depend if they can truly carve themselves out from the ever-growing pack of Australia’s increasingly crowded alternative-rock and pop-punk scenes. Just to step outside of our subjects for a second, that’s a musical landscape that already includes Stuck Out, Harbours, no-longer-shit up and comers Dear Seattle, Columbus, The Playbook, With Confidence, my beloved jacob, Trophy Eyes, Slowly Slowly, the pure legends that are Ceres, The Sinking Teeth, The Love Junkies, the sorely underrated Fresh Nelson, and many more. Now, a lot of those bands above write some truly fantastic music (namely Ceres, jacob, and Fresh Nelson) so Bukowski do and will have their work cut out for them in supposedly becoming our nation’s next big rock export over their many peers. Not just for my own personal tastes but also that of the wider public. And that’s not even taking into consideration the international favourites that consistently trail blaze through the minds and hearts of many local punters, such as Neck Deep, Real Friends, The Story So Far, and State Champs, among others.
It also depends on whether or not you believe that artists like Trophy Eyes, Tash Sultana, and Violent Soho have now had their full time in the spotlight (they haven’t, shit’s only just beginning for those three) or if you subscribe to the Triple J hype that a weird act like Confidence Man is our nation’s “Best up-and-coming live band” (no, they’re not). Because Bukowski don’t live in a bubble and they’re not the only ones in the race. Of course, having your management, label and/or PR proclaiming you to be the next big thing since whatever was the last big thing can get people’s attention – I think this article here is more than proof of that – but there’s a long way to go yet.
HOWEVER! Based on the first two songs from their most recent 5-track EP – the brief, effective yet lazily named intro, ‘Title‘, and the remorseful ‘twothousandandseven‘ – the local quartet seems to have put their best foot forward as to why they could go far very far.
Of course, Bukowski isn’t doing anything new for either of their genres. I suppose the real irony in that is that if they did do something different, it would probably result in the band no longer fitting into the norms and conventions of emo/rock or pop-punk and then what would even be the damn point!? So, the group have gone with what they themselves know best: typical rock chord progressions, a balanced mixture of clean and distorted guitars, incredibly moody song timbres, a strong essence of punk rock drumming guiding their songs along, the go-to pop-punk vocal melodies, emotionally personalised lyrics, all with a natural-sounding production and crisp mix aesthetic (courtesy of Jack Newlyn) bolstering their sound.
Back in February, Bukowski released their debut EP’s first single, ‘You’re Probably Gonna Hate This‘ – a preemptive, almost self-deprecating song title that one-ups the people whose music does very little for them and stave off the anger of whoever the track was initially written about. Ironically, I don’t mind this closing track at all! Their angst-ridden lyrics (“I’ll try to find a better life, something more stable than you and I“, anybody?) and catchy vocal hooks are situated in all the right places, and they work well. That, coupled with the song’s good flow and shorter length only adds to the overall impact, without wasting any of the listener’s time – something that also goes double for their EP as a whole.
Sure, a cut like this or its fellow energetic title track before it on the EP aren’t original by any means but they’re still solid, ear-worming tunes nonetheless.
On the flip side to Bukowski’s emotional yet up spirited songs, we have the darker, near-polar-opposite track, ‘Brood‘. Which is a fitting title for this emotive, quiet-then-loud track that stalks around the listener in said brooding fashion; one that gets right under your skin musically and with its palpable lyrics such as “Now my patience is wearing thin/‘Cause I don’t know where you’ve been/I keep waiting, count the hours, home is not a place that’s ours/I’m forever by the phone, calling friends who just don’t know…“.
‘Brood‘ carries a far more interesting dynamic than its four other siblings do, as it shows that Bukowski can do much more in the way of slower tempos and constantly elevating emotional intensity and song dynamics. In fact, the band’s current two singles are the best of the lot to listen to first, just to see whether or not you’re picking up what these dudes are putting down.
As it stands right now, no, I don’t think that Bukowski will be the next big thing – at least not yet. I have a handful of other local bands I’ll be putting on first before my streams and playlists hit any of Bukowski’s songs. Plus, a mere five-track EP does give me fuck all to work with in terms of what and where they can go from here onwards. And of course, the “next big thing” only becomes such when crowds flock and swarm, when streaming numbers surge ever upwards, and when sales figures really start to ramp up. For Bukowski, that just means that more ears will need to delve into their music first.
So go pick up the solid EP that is ‘grow up. give up. let go.‘ here or stream it over here, as it’s a release that shows potential. Meaning that Bukowksi’s future – whatever strides and success that entails – will hopefully be brighter than the melancholic, gloomy tone of their music.
Finally, what do you think of Bukowski?