From Big Machine Records, the blues rock outfit Badflower released their debut album Ok, I’m Sick this past week. This impressive first outing calls back to the sleazy blues rock of old, while still having a modern spin. Out of all the songs on the record, the standout from this debut is its sobering centerpiece, “Daddy.”
“Daddy” is a look into an abusive household where the patriarch of the family is both physically and sexually abusing his young daughter. We also notice a reference of the father’s alcohol addiction with the line, “Now he returns like every time with rum on his breath and her on his mind.” As the song progresses, the listener hears how the daughter has only grown numb to these heinous activities and the singer sympathizes with how it will be so hard for this child to find love in the future after these traumatic experiences. The tragic story of this song ends with the daughter coming of age and smothering her father while he is on his deathbed. The whole theme of a broken life is summed up in the final line “If Daddy only stopped when she begged him before, he’d be so much more, she’d be so much more.”
This song works on a variety of other levels while already displaying stellar narrative skills. Guitarist/vocalist Josh Katz shows incredible understanding of the composition by having a subdued delivery which seems to shudder with terror at having to recite this story. Drummer Anthony Sonetti also understands the song by playing sparsely in the verse and opening it up with subtle cymbal work in the chorus. While the guitars aren’t flying off the hinges on this cut, this seems like a deliberate move on their part, since any chaotic solo would take away from the uncomfortable nature of the song.
The production at this stage in the band’s career is nothing to write home about though. Even though you can hear the band’s talent, they’re missing that extra sonic punch to make them stand out. If they can get a producer like Rick Rubin or Butch Vig to take their sound to the next level, these guys could be massive in the rock community.
Overall, Badflower has been classified as a blues rock outfit by some, but that doesn’t seem exactly right in my book. They clearly have influences from the hard rock blues like Guns N Roses, but the storytelling presented in this song hints at more alternative influences, like when Pearl Jam would write songs about other people (a la “Better Man” and “Jeremy”). The melding of these genres gives the band a distinct edge to their sound that is a welcomed change of pace in today’s musical landscape. While Badflower’s entire debut record is incredibly solid, “Daddy” is the track that gives you a hint as to what this band can do in the future. This is a band with potential to be a heavy hitter in the rock genre and could have the capacity to cross genre lines altogether.
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