Bad Shapes is a Philadelphia-based DIY rock band formed in 2018. Drawing influence from the experimental inventiveness of post-punk and the atmospheric elements of post-rock, Bad Shapes’ music seeks always to create commonality between discomfort and discovery. The result is a cohesiveness found between heavily effected guitars that shimmer and surge over driving rhythmic foundations, modulated synths that bounce and bend, and found-audio samples carefully deployed both in earnest and irony. Bad Shapes has described themselves as “The AV Club of Bands,” with a light show that mixes live video synthesis, oscilloscope, and glitched-out imagery to ensure that every performance is a unique audio/visual spectacle.

Bad Shapes’ self-titled debut LP is the manifestation of an internal dialogue, struggling with the highs and lows of indecision and self-doubt. This theme came through naturally for the band, as all four members have come from other successful bands across the states, and found their way to Philly to try something new. On the album, this tentative process of learning to make art with new faces is clearly presented through music. And visuals. The band has built its performances around lights, projectors, piles of TVs, and video synthesis; and this visual representation has become a core tenant of the album. This visual experimentation has become the bonding point of Bad Shapes. Where the band spent months trying to make decisions musically, they found they could achieve immediate satisfaction in creating textured, polychromatic visuals – there are no “bad shapes”.

In this setting of colorful scenes on their practice space walls – they always practice this way – Bad Shapes settled into their experimental songwriting style. You will hear this in the ethereal guitar effects across the album, and the found audio samples, appearing as narrator, or guide, at crucial points throughout. Even the song structures themselves lack predictability. This too comes from the lyrics, which often come across as more of a therapy session, and rarely repeat lines – this coming from the same honest self-doubt that inspired the album.

Honest is the word for Bad Shapes, both band and album. The lyrics are baring, attempting to show an anxious mind moving from doubt to certainty, sure-footing to spiraling. The feedback Ioop of negativity catches wind frequently, with the music supporting this through sudden dynamic changes and overtly repetitive phrases. It even comes through in the album art, in which you see Bad Shapes’ video feedback setup used for inspiration. You can see this setup in the full practice recordings that the band posts weekly, in which they show themselves as they are: artists learning to collaborate through honest, flawed improvisation in an audio/visual medium.


Private Album Download (Google Drive)

Incredible lyrics go a long way towards making me love a band. I’ll even forgive some pretty awful musicianship in lieu of some quality wordsmithery. This album is not an example of that. This is one of those scattered-chance situations where you have both worlds colliding like two sides of a zipper, thus closing the jacket of perfection.. What in holy hell am I typing right now? Sorry about that. I thought I had something. You get the idea though right? This is a really good little EP. Actually it’s not that little; these are some pretty hefty songs. One of them has what appears (can things appear sonically?) to be voice clips of alien encounter anecdotes. I mean damn. I bet aliens can appear sonically. If you live in Philadelphia you would be remiss to not see this band play live. I’m jealous that you even have the opportunity to do so. I can sense how mind-blasting this would be in person. Listen, you’re just a fool if you don’t go to their next show pal. Unless it’s on a weeknight. If it’s on a weeknight you should probably just stay home and get to bed at a decent time. I’m ok with that.

Top 5 Albums/EPs That DON’T Suck July 2018

4 Piece. Band. Phili. Guitar. Garage-rock-pop. BAD SHAPES. Making. Waves. That was just for emphasis. It was necessary. The band is given life by Joe Gruber (drums), Wes Harmon (guitar, synth, vocals), Mark Quitevis (guitar), and Ben Taylor (bass, vocals). What they do with ‘Always Enemy’ is that moment when you realize there’s no way out of the movie-theater without having to cause a scene. You sit in the middle of the row. Movie isn’t finished. Boom. BAD SHAPES will remind you. They will help you. Maybe. ‘Rough Edges’ is their latest 6 track debut EP, and is available now. Do it.