Arts & Entertainment, High Notes

Va Va Voom by Bangups

By Ron Powers

Va Va Voom by Bangups

I was visiting a friend a few days ago and while we chatted, my friend’s son was in the living room playing a snowboarding game called “Steep”. One of the songs on the game’s soundtrack grabbed my attention so I naturally “shazamed it.

The band I discovered is called Bangups. The song is Va Va Voom. And although it’s been out since 2016, I really want to tell you about it.

Va Va Voom is the second song off the Bangups’ third release (Candy Cigarettes). It begins with a three-octave lead guitar line followed by punk rock power chords, bass, and four-on-the-floor drums. My initial impression of the song was Sex Pistols meets Weezer meets Lady Gaga. I particularly love the drum sound. Not surprising seeing as Steve Albini (Nirvana producer) recorded the album.

After the intro we hear a stripped-down verse arrangement of kick drum, fuzz bass, and vocals. Not only is this song musically and melodically compelling it’s also very impressive lyrically. And although the theme “boy likes girl” is common, Bangups’ lyrics are anything but that. Here’s four lines from the song that says it all…

“You’re the seismic spike shaking up my volcano

The headline news the F6 tornado

My nuclear bomb my apocalyptic dream

My zoo’s on the loose my eyes are glued to the screen”

Next the pre-chorus comes in. Here the Bangups lift the energy just enough to increase interest while leaving plenty of headroom for the chorus to pop. Then we hear a screaming-pitch-rising guitar sound which blasts us into a perfectly crafted chorus. If I wasn’t already convinced the Bangups knew what they were doing when it came to constructing song, I certainly was when the chorus kicked in.

Va Va Voom has all the earmarks of a great song, i.e., melody with a strong hook, and simple, memorable chorus lyrics. Although this song has a simple chorus, it reflects creative restraint and balance. It’s easily noticed when an artist is just following a pop formula of repetitive lyrics. There’s a difference between lazy repetition and artful repetition. The Bangups embody the latter.

After one more verse/chorus combination the instrumental/bridge section comes in. It was at this point that I let out an audible “YES!”. Here the Bangups “drop the hammer” as they say. It was like the cells in my body were vibrating from the raw power this song emits. The bridge lyrics ring out…

“Dialed in on the sweet spot

You got the kilowatts

Coming through my powerlines

Like a thrill ride

Charging up my battery

Oh so powerfully

The big bad wolf in me

Howling for you”

Following the instrumental/bridge is a four-bar tension builder. This section is composed of simultaneous strikes to the drums which rise in intensity while bass and rhythm guitars hold one steady note, and the lead guitar blasts out aggressive siren like sounds. The tension builds to a fever pitch. Then the song slams into one last chorus followed by a satisfying outro.

I highly recommend that you take a listen to Va Va Voom and the Bangups. This is a band I’m thrilled to have discovered and I look forward to hearing what they come up with next.  You can listen to more of their music on Spotify, Apple, Google Music, etc.

Ron Powers

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