With BUSA Flock, Blastfamous USA Energize a Movement

by Nick Hanover

Blastfamous USA Flock

Blastfamous USA don’t fit the stereotype of a musical collective. They have three members instead of Broken Social Scene’s 19. They make short burst aggro protest pop instead of lengthy jams (though they do confess to being influenced by the Grateful Dead). You can count their side projects on one hand. But a collective is what they are in the truest sense, unified by a desire to bring communities together through music, wielding far more power through their alliance than they did as individuals. And on their new EP BUSA Flock, their collective is even more powerful than ever as it reaches out to include more of their peers.

BUSA’s eponymous debut bristled with the energy of someone freed from a lackluster, overly long relationship, tossing out ideas left and right while sticking to immediate gratification as its primary goal. Instead of having too much to say and not enough ways to say it, Blastfamous USA was concise and driven, exploding with potential, teasing out the possibilities of the then newly formed supergroup. BUSA Flock remains true to that– each of its six tracks leaves you desperately craving more– but it expands on Blastfamous USA’s style and ideals in exciting ways, tweaking the core sound just enough to make mainstream success a likely possibility without betraying the edge that caused the group to stand out so much in the first place.

Introductory single “Pull Up” functions as the most obvious personification of that, with a Neptunes-like beat sugarcoating the band’s signature riot siren aesthetic. “Pull Up” is also a crossover of comic book proportions, joining BUSA together with Zeale’s other supergroup Blackillac, a testament to how potent and inviting the universe BUSA have carved out in the frequently white washed Austin scene is. It’s a summer banger that’s equally at home soundtracking a backyard barbeque as a daring midnight raid on an ICE facility.

The eerie “Get It” is less of a deviation from BUSA’s main sound but the vocal contributions of Chantell Moody, who plays with BUSA percussionist Deano Cote in Fort Never, are so rich they reveal entirely new depths to the BUSA aesthetic. Moody’s vocals in the Digital Wild in particular often lean towards the anthemic but on “Get It” she leans into the otherworldly quality of her voice, making for a particularly effective contrast with Zeale’s breathy swagger. BUSA’s presentation of justice is usually righteously angry, the voice of a mob pointed at the right target, but with Moody on board it takes on a sorrowful quality, the sound of devastated masses who nonetheless cling to hope in the face of impossible odds.

Not to say that BUSA Flock doesn’t deliver on blistering fury, though. “March Up,” a collaboration with preeminent political noisemakers BLXPLTN, is the angriest Blastfamous has ever sounded, blending together a Blood Brothers-esque chorus, a soulful hook and noise rap verses. “Run It” is less extreme, featuring synth riffs and Mobley hooks that wouldn’t be out of place in some summer movie trailer, but it also has Zeale at his cheekiest, shouting “all my haters you can go to suckdick.com” as he’s egged on by a cyberpunk bassline and some John Carpenter-esque twinkling synth arpeggios. By the time Zeale swears “I’m not here to make a fuss,” you wonder if it’s a lie or if we just haven’t seen what a truly ramped up Zeale looks like yet.

Or perhaps there’s a third option: Zeale’s here to encourage you to make a fuss for him. That’s certainly what BUSA have done with their guest roster on BUSA Flock, and it’s hard not give in to that infectious energy yourself after the fade out hits. Because with BUSA Flock, BUSA are clearly aiming to do something beyond merely energizing fans, they’re dedicated to energizing a movement, pulling listeners and peers alike into their rowdy vortex until we’re all just one indomitable mass.

Blastfamous USA play Empire Control Room this Saturday, July 7th with BLXPLTN, Fort Never and Mobley to celebrate the release of Flock.

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Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Ovrld as well as Loser City, where he mostly writes about comics. You can also flip through his archives at  Comics Bulletin, which he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culture, where he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with his friends and enemies on twitter: @Nick_Hanover