This is part of Dudes Brunch’s “Follow Friday” series. A weekly bio of someone or something you should be paying attention to.
If you don’t know who Jeff Rosenstock is, and you call yourself a punk fan, it’s time you got educated.
Rosenstock is the former frontman/mastermind of Bomb the Music Industry (BTMI), an infamous DIY ska/pop-punk band active from 2004-2014. BTMI’s sound is an upbeat and (slightly) experimental melding of electronics, folk instrumentation and the traditional pop-punk/power-pop sound you might associate with Weezer. Their name and approach went hand-in-hand, creating numerous comparisons to Dudes Brunch favorite Fugazi. Like the DC legends, BTMI played only all-ages shows with a maximum ticket price of $10; however, BTMI intentionally gave away their albums for free online. This practice was almost certainly a catalyst for their international buzz as well as their inclusion in popular TV shows such as Weeds and The Office.
Throughout Bomb The Music Industry, Rosenstock was also active in a side project called The Arrogant Sons of Bitches, which was a more traditional Third-Wave Ska band. Expect a ton of horns, and lyrics that sound like a really really pissed off version of Reel Big Fish. This is prime skanking territory right here. Rosenstock also released a handful of singles and EPs with pop side-project Kudrow and electronic(?) trio Pegasuses-XL. Seriously, dude was busy.
Towards the end of BTMI Rosenstock released his first solo record “I Look Like Shit”. He followed it up with the incredible “We Cool?” this past year, which Anthony Fantano gave an 8/10, that may be the most fun you’ll ever have being miserable. His sound is intentionally sloppy, yet energetic and his lyrics ponder drinking alone, settling down and death in an interesting light.
Rosenstock’s not stopping there though. He has yet another side-project, with Chris Farren of Fake Problems, called Antarctigo Vespucci. Farren takes lead vocal duty here, though there’s a decent amount of Rosenstock’s characteristic screaming in the background. Calling Antarctigo Vespucci an acoustic act would be an over-simplification, but in comparison to BTMI these records feel like an episode of MTV Unplugged. Their latest “full-length” (clocking in at 25 minutes long) features an impressive array of 1980’s synths that feel right at home in Rosenstock’s pop-cultural stew. The record caught the attention of Stereogum, who named Antarctigo Vespucci one of the best new bands of 2015.
If you’re a punk fan you probably know where this is going. One guy in four different bands, he must be running a label. You’re right! Jeff Rosenstock has been running Quote Unquote Records, the first purely donations based DIY label since 2006, releasing his own projects and those of his friends in other DIY acts such as The Taxpayers. No joke, every single album I’ve mentioned in this article is available for FREE on Quote Unquote’s website. Just chip in and support Jeff and friends if you decide you like his stuff. I’m pretty sure you will.
I’ve been following Jeff Rosenstock since Tyler showed me Bomb The Music Industry back in 2010 or 2011. I’m consistently impressed with his output and moved by his lyrics. I cannot recommend his entire body of work enough. If you’ve listened, let me know what you think. What’s your favorite Rosenstock project? Have you seen any of his bands live?