“ROCK IS DEAD!” Well that’s what a lot of folks have said lately. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Sometimes a cause just needs a champion; someone to carry the torch. When Scott Borchetta, head of (largely country and pop label) Big Machine Label Group teamed up with American fashion designer John Varvatos to form “Big Machine/John Varvatos Records”, they did so with a mission to bring rock music back to the forefront. Now that I have heard “Ok, I’m Sick”, the debut full length album from Badflower, the very first band that they signed back in 2017, I can safely say: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
This album is a product of a band who cares far more about authenticity creating the kind of art that they want to create, and a label/team/support system that lets them, rather than checking off boxes. It’s refreshing, and allows this album to be a piece of art that so many people around the world from all different walks of life will be able to connect with, both musically and lyrically.
The album kicks off with a frantic intro to “xANAx”, almost as if they are taking the listener inside the racing thoughts and emotions of a panic attack. The song is intense, emotional, high energy, and even includes some spoken word, and lets you see into their world.
They immediately take a sharp turn on the 2nd track, “The Jester”, tapping into a different range of emotions, as this song has a mellow, somber, but very melodic buildup, leading up to thick driving guitars as this poignant call for affirmation cries out “Is there anybody out there looking out for me? Just say you want me just say you need me”.
“Ghost” is a massive hit, and how most new fans discovered Badflower. Released in June of 2018, it has garnered nearly 10 million views on YouTube and reached the top of various charts. A song that tackled depression, suicide, and what it leaves behind was much needed, as the rock world was still reeling from the losses of some of its biggest stars.
“We’re In Love” is a melodic, groove heavy track with shimmering guitars, and even some well-placed screams. The type of song you put on repeat in the car out on the open road. “Promise Me” is a beautifully written song; an ode to a soulmate of sorts. It has a definite pop quality to it, which fits beautifully on the record, given how unique each song is from the next. “Daddy” is an up-tempo track with solid progression and a rock-pop chorus that tackles the very tough subject of a girl growing up with an abusive father. It’s an emotionally stirring song, both musically and lyrically. “24” could almost be considered a dirge; its story told as one whose regrets have gotten the best of them as they look back at their life and remember a better time. The music is slow, somber, full of minor chords, and fits beautifully here as the band continues to take us on this deep emotional musical journey.
The album then transitions to the next track, “Heroin”. It is simply pure no frills rock & roll. Currently #11 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, this song is full of thick driving guitars, with a catchy chorus that fans will be singing along to for a long time.
“Die” leads us into some of the bands hard rock stylings, and tackles the political and social issues of the day. It’s a heavy track, with the screams and the distorted bass guitar suiting it beautifully! “Murder Games” continues the trek down a heavier sound from the band, after a soft and slow buildup in the verses transitions to a thick and heavy chorus at the same tempo, almost reminiscent of the great choruses from Filter and Deftones.
“Girlfriend” is one of the catchiest tracks on the album. So unique from every other song on the record, they once again prove that they are not bound in any way stylistically. Their use of spoken word on this track fits it very well. “Wide Eyes” incorporates the piano perfectly as accompaniment for this track. As the bass guitar registers 16th notes the entire time, with beautiful guitar in the verse and driving intensity in the chorus, this song feels as “full” as any other on the record.
Badflower ends our journey with “Cry”, a 6 minute 24 second release of sorts after the emotional roller coaster we’ve just been taken on. It’s as emotional as any other song on the record, with beautiful instrumentals, introspective lyrics, and gives the listener a chance to reflect on the journey they’ve just been taken on.
It’s not just an album. It’s an experience. It’s an experience I’d like to invite you to take as soon as possible, if you haven’t already!
“Ok I’m Sick”? Ok, I’m sold!