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There’s plenty of reason to admire Mr. Dwyer. He’s smoking the best weed, has the best backing band (Thee Oh Sees), has an awesome label, the best guitars, all the Death By Audio pedals he could dream of, he even has a frickin’ Tascam 388 ffs and, most importantly of all, he’s now financially stable enough to quit the bullshit work toil and play music full time. Lucky lad.
He also has a fully functioning June 6 and he ain’t afraid to fire that shit up and blurzz one either, which brings us to Damaged Bug, Dwyers excuse to put the guitar down for a second and vibe out on synths. Problem is he’s only half committed to dropping the axe, infact guitars still play a significant role on this holiday from rock side project, as do other acoustic instruments, primarily drums which he seems to be playing himself, quite well too. Describing ‘Hubba Bubba’ isn’t easy but if you’ve heard the almost LCD Soundsystem groove of ‘Eggs At Night’ (check Soundcloud dude) you’ll have a general idea what to expect. It takes it’s cues from New Wave and Krautrock but, as he has a tendency to do when making solo Oh Sees albums like ‘Castlevania’, he totally fucking with the formula, blurring the lines as much as possible whilst still being courteous enough to give up a few tunes in the process.
The analogue synth driven by amps and pedals vibe brings to mind all sorts of bands from the past including the likes of Numbers or Eats Tapes, two bands I’m sure Dwyer was digging back in the day. It’s certainly as quirky as anything I’ve heard him do before but the vocals and consistency of the writing suggests this is a pretty serious project. Personally I’m just thrown by his kick-ass Can beats. All power to the guy.
7/10 Vaughan Customer review, 5th June 2014
Sometimes I’m convinced I’ve just woken up in the early 1980s. This isn’t Hubba Bubba by Damaged Bug, surely? It has to be the new Fad Gadget LP. Gloomy, catchy, slightly ramshackle and noisy? Yes. A bit punk? Absolutely. Retro? Of course. You can almost see the sellotape holding the transistors together.
And the songs are quite good. It all kicks off nicely with the whiny synth, crashing drums, clanging guitar and petulant, monotone vocals of Gloves for Garbage. Eggs at Night is a bit Crystal Castles-ish at times. And there are one or two instrumentals that temporarily derail any impression that John (Damaged Bug) Dwyer isn’t trying too hard.
Nevertheless, it can be a bit predictable. Much of Hubba Bubba involves doom-laden, sinister vocals over muddy synths, humming organs and screeching guitars. And then there are the grim lyrics. Gloves for Garbage kicks off with (possibly): “It must be pills inside my head that make it seem like I am dead”. Rope Burn lightens the mood a bit with: “I’ll drive a spike into your vein.”
In theory this is all gothic and sinister but in practice it’s all a bit comical. Of course Ron (Fad Gadget) Tovey was himself quite funny but he was also caustic and unsettling. And the retro effect pales next to, say, Crystal Castles, who are old school and yet relevant. Or Micachu, who is DIY pop, but not as we know it.
On the other hand DB does have a gift for a tune. Metal Hand and the uncharacteristically jolly Sic Bay Surprise are especially entertaining. But is that enough? Well, it’s enough for seven stars out of ten for an engaging performance and some jaunty numbers but DB might have tried for something more than horror film lyrics and creaky synths. Try Fad Gadget’s Back to Nature from his earliest phase to get an idea of what I mean.
But you don’t really have to. There’s enough here to enjoy for most fans (like me) of prehistoric electronic gothic. The only problem is that Mr Dwyer might be enjoying himself a bit more than we are…
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