Douglas Martin’s Dirty Shoes: Bummed – “Smoking Jewels”

The noise-pop melodies of Boston's Bummed make for an essential addition to the Dirty Shoes fall rotation.
By    October 26, 2015


Douglas Martin leads a sock-less lifestyle, most of the time

With a song title like “Smoking Jewels,” you’d probably expect to hear a trippy odyssey of sorts; something with a wavy, coasting guitar line sounding like a vapor cloud floating in and out of your consciousness. You know, swirling colors, a woozy disposition. The new single from Sommerville, MA noise-pop quintet Bummed doesn’t quite check off the boxes the way you’d expect, in so much as that it’s a ways away from sounding like some third-tier Levitation band’s debut single.

After a limited-edition self-titled cassette that contained all the buzzing, squalling glory of the best contemporary shoegaze — airy, sweetly melodic vocals married to a violent disposition — the new single from Bummed throws the broken oscillator noise to the background to focus on their melodic strong suits.

The lead guitar is autumnal, occupying the space between cautiously cheerful and comfortably melancholy. The pace switches from a breakneck sprint to a (light) headbanging stomp and back again. The vocals are still hanging around the margins, cloaked with the kind of ghostly reverb that would even make “Happy Birthday” sound haunted. After playing around with different sorts of noise the guitar can make, Bummed is now playing around with form and structure, and their experimentation is yielding some interesting results. Not exactly music to take drugs to, but music to kick up leaves while driving to is a pretty substantial alternative.

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