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95 Bulls

95 Bulls invite you into the eye of the hurricane on "GO HOME"

photo by Joel Henderson

95 Bulls come off more like 5 Tasmanian Devils on stage—in near perpetual motion, twisting and turning and thrashing about and headbanging and hopping in place, with Emily Ashenden in particular seeming to reside atop an invisible pogo stick shaking loose one guttural howl in the abyss after another from her compact frame, sounding not unlike a demon child in the throes of extended exorcism on songs like “Big Fight,” “Golden Tooth,” and “Big Fight” as heard below…

…meanwhile you got Kayla Asbell reelin’ and rockin’ over her keyboard like an exorcist coaxing malignant spirits out of her instrument and Zach Inkley thrashing his mop of dirty blonde locks in time to the beat forming a motion-blur halo like a guitar shredding Samson. And finally there’s the pummeling rhythm section of Dom Bodo and Zach Butler aka Butzz who together provide a center of gravity to the surrounding maelstrom, pushing the whole thing forward like a lurching kaiju monster stomping all over some unfortunate metropolis

…and yeah I just mixed about a half-dozen metaphors and similes but so fukking what-a’ cuz all these literary devices are in service of forming a tenuous order out of chaos (the music blogger’s mandate!) and “forming a tenuous order out of chaos” is an apt description for the music 95 Bulls whether encountered live or on their debut album GO HOME made up of nine hurricane-strength songs that’ll have you feeling like Dorothy after she got sucked up into the sky by a badlands tornado with only Toto to hold onto until she finds her way back home…

…and if you don’t get what I’m getting at just listen to “Trichotillomania” and tell me it’s not like getting caught up in a dizzying two-minute monsoon powered by gale force riffs and torrential rhythms and squalls of dirty guitar rampaging across your cranial cavity as Emily sing-shouts about “tearing all my hair out / tearing all my hair out / everything inside / is starting to wear out” and it’s no wonder she wants to go home

…or skip to 2:17 on the album-closing “Your Dad’s Watch” with its tipsy spinning top vamp that sounds like music you’d expect to hear emanating from a haunted merry-go-round ride or loop around to the opening track “Loud Mouth” with its piston-driven drumbeat and whirligig main melody (first heard on bass guitar) that sounds like it’s about to jump the tracks at a certain point (namely during the guitar solo) but keeps chugging ahead in circular motion until you’re woozy for the centripetal force and this is how so many of 95 Bulls’ songs hit me like a series of derelict funhouse rides where the greasy, gas-huffing carny keeps pushing up the speed to potentially dangerous levels… 

…which is not to mention the calliope-like organ tone with Kayla at times sounds like Ray Manzarek on Mandrex or the Three Boys In The Band who may or may not work as greasy, gas-huffing carnies in their off hours or Miss E’s carnival-barker style vocalization—part blues belter and part punk shouter—like Big Mama Thornton meets Poly Styrene and hey I just made an Emily simile (!) which is a perfect vocal quality for songs about sweaty-palmed anticipation and sweaty-palmed anxiety and getting caught up in a vortex between these and other conflicting impulses and attempting to work out the contours of it all as described below by Emily herself after the jump…

I think GO HOME is about the process of building boundaries. “Your Dad’s Watch” is an example of a story that, looking back, demonstrated this tendency to avoid uncomfortable situations for fear of “tapping out” or not amounting to some version of myself that would be able to handle it. I think all 5 of us play Chicken with ourselves a lot. In both “Trichotillomania” and “Young Love” there is a similar message of impatience. I’ve had a lot of recent frustration about where I am/my addictions messing up opportunities and that “loss of time” causes me to want to skip ahead, as fast as I can, to the end of almost every situation. Obviously, I keep learning that’s not how things work! “Trichotillomania” is about how that feels internally and “Young Love” is the struggle to try to softly communicate this similar frustration in a relationship.

…so best test out your seat belt and upper-body harness and settle in for the ride because with 95 Bulls at the controls it’s bound to be a doozy of a journey wherever they end up heading next…. (Jason Lee)


95 Bulls live set on FLTV

First, a shout out to all those musical acts who choose to use defiantly G**gle proof name. Some of these acts have been profiled in these pages recently such as Navy Blue, Woods, and Slut Magic (ok not so much the latter tho’ that particular phrase does have an Urban Dictionary entry which sounds totally bogus but I digress) and now we can add 95 Bulls to this special list.

In theory, anyway. Maybe it’s only because the Big Googly Eye In The Sky knows me too well but the band’s Instagram account came up as a first page search result, plus another first page hit courtesy of our good friend(s) at Bands Do BK who in late October premiered the 95 Bulls’ two-track debut single “Big Fight”/“Crazy” and shared vital stats on the band's origins (basically an indie rockin' punk rawkin' bartender and barback and barfly supergroup formed at Our Wicked Lady) and motivation for formation (quarantine-itis).

Maybe it’s got something to do with the latter but I'd respectfully submit that 95 Bulls could furnish an appropriate soundtrack for any of your potential choices in a game of “F*ck, Marry, Kill” (well dunno if you'd wanna get married to any of their songs but they've got good tunes for people you wanna f*ck or kill for sure). This F*CK/KILL duality comes across even more strongly on stage where the band members flirt and rage musically in equal measure like if you can imagine a more aggro B-52s--plus the groovy-warbly Farfisa keyboard makes this comparision even more apt and ups the dance ante significantly--or maybe they're more like a Great Dane getting overly frisky and thrusting his snout deep into your crotch to the point where you get kinda turned on but fear for your genitals at the same time. Anyway I've used up my allotted number of analogies so will leave it at that.

And yeah you heard right I said *on stage* because you can at this very moment watch a live set and an interview with 95 Bulls as part of Footlight Bar’s “FLTV” series filmed under safe conditions at Brooklyn’s Starr Bar. Check out the link HERE where for a small fee you'll not only see the last-danceless Bulls play live and hear some of their unreleased songs like “Red Nails,” “Trichotillomania,” “Young Love,” “Golden Tooth,” and “Your Father’s Watch,” but you'll also witness exclusive footage of the band drinking heavily in the recording studio and also a couch-based convo with sparkle-masked host Kendra during which intimate thoughts are shared on penguin orgasms, band Tinder accounts, getting twerked on at Covid testing sites, meeting depressed divorceés In New Jersey, and the ultimate dream of receiving a Popeye’s sponsorship. (Jason Lee)


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