As overdriven and joyously frenetic as Bodega sounds on its debut album, Endless Scroll, the New York City five-piece took a meticulously calculated approach to business during its formation. Reached in the Big Apple, singer-guitarist Ben Hozie notes that the group rose out of the wreckage of the similarly named Bodega Bay, which included his current bandmate and cosinger Nikki Belfiglio.
“There were a lot of great things about that band, but when it broke up me and Nikki took stock,” Hozie says, on the line from home with Belfiglio. “We made a band diagram where we wrote all the things we love about Bodega Bay on the left, and then on the right all the things that we really didn’t want to do anymore. From the left-hand column we started Bodega, obviously adding more things to it. We realized there were things that bands do at shows we don’t like, things that bands do on their records that we don’t like. Some of it was musical, some of it was literally like the kind of shirts that bands wear. Everything was really thought through with this new group.”
What Bodega ended up with was a strain of indie rock that harks back to the early ’00s, when New York City gave rise to a culture-shifting wave of guitar bands that included Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Strokes, Interpol, and TV on the Radio. Rock had been pronounced dead at the time, but New York and Detroit (thanks to the White Stripes, Von Bondies, and Dirtbombs) suddenly made the genre seem sexy and vital again.
The magic of that era is not lost on Bodega, whose hypersmart LP Endless Scroll will remind you how you felt the first time you heard the Strokes’ swaggering landmark Is This It. Songs are loaded with turbo-slacker guitar and vocals that walk a frazzled line between fantastically bored and enraged at the grind of daily existence.
“One of the things we also talked about was sexiness,” Belfiglio says. “It’s something that’s been absent from indie rock for a long time. And for good reason—I think that white, male indie-rock bands have been shamed into a little cave. Instead of going ‘We can be sexy, and have consent, et cetera et cetera,’ they chose to retreat into their little bedroom world. But there are other ways of being able to be sexy without being sexist or using your power in a way that’s unliberating for your fans.”
Endless Scroll also shows that Hozie and company—guitarist Madison Velding-VanDam, bassist Heather Elle, and drummer Montana Simone—have plenty to say lyrically. Scattered across the 14 tracks are references to everything from hitting up the local liquor stores for moving-day boxes to hipsters who can never seem to remember your name.
“A lot of the discussion when we started Bodega was ‘What can we do to update this sort of punk-rock vocabulary that we find interesting and fun, and not like a retro-rock thing?’ ” Hozie says.
The album’s title will resonate with anyone who hates checking, in no particular order, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and Pinterest at midnight, and then repeating the ritual the second they wake up. Yes, take a step forward if, more than you care to admit, you can relate to “I use my computer for everything/Heaven knows I’m miserable now” from “Bodega Birth”.
“Literally, I had this epiphany,” Hozie recalls, “where I would get up and go to work at a desk job where I was on a computer all day working as a film editor. Then, on my break, I’d talk to Nikki on Facebook Chat or something like that. Then, as soon as I got off work, I’d come home and scroll through music sites, or if I was working on a song, demoing it in front of the computer.
“Then,” he continues, “if I wanted to watch a movie, I’m on the computer. Right until going to bed, I’m on the computer except for about 20 minutes, and that’s just a fact. There’s an Endless Scroll, and there’s us as a band sort of literally recording this moment and how ubiquitous this technology is and how it’s literally changing the way my brain works.”
Bodega plays the Fox Cabaret on Tuesday (August 14).