Published Jul 22, 2020Since John Dwyer began his Damaged Bug side-project in 2014, the musician (best known as the frontman for beloved garage act Oh Sees) has seeed uninterested in having the project interest a wider audience. It always seemed to function more as an avenue for Dwyer to experiment outside of his more well-known band.
With Bug on Yonkers, Dwyer continues his apparent disinterest in being accessible, as the album is a collection of nine cover songs from obscure psych/noise rock legend Michael Yonkers. It's obvious that Dwyer and the band he put together on this record are purely making this music as a loving tribute, and not to sell copies or have a hit.
Bug on Yonkers serves as a peek into the musical DNA that made Dwyer's music what it is. These covers wouldn't sound too out of place on any of his work with Oh Sees, but the performances are looser and more spontaneous: seemingly not out of a lack of effort, but out of respect and love for the original songwriter.
Songs like "Lovely Gold" and single "I Tried" plod at a healthy pace, as bass synthesizer grooves serve as a backbone for Dwyer (and Damaged Bug member Brigid Dawson) to sing Yonker's words amidst abrasive analog synth and guitar noise.
As a full-length release, it feels admittedly slight, especially in the wake of Oh Sees' 80-minute prog/psych/krautrock opus Face Stabber from last year, but it's engaging to hear Dwyer's commitment to making these songs as fun as possible.
Bug on Yonkers is destined to go down as a minor release in Dwyer's prolific discography. Regardless, it's still a fun record, and one that showcases modern psych's leading frontman paying tribute to his idol in a way that should satisfy Michael Yonkers and general psych-rock fans alike. (Castle Face)