Just Business: Bass Drum of Death’s Ode to New York Grit


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“There’s a certain kind of trouble that you’re able to get into in New York that you’re not able to get in anywhere else,” laughs John Barrett, the man behind the lo-fi rock band Bass Drum of Death. Having originally hailed from Oxford, Mississippi, Barrett’s ability to capture the gritty sound of the New York underground on his newest album Just Business feels like he matured in the The Strokes-era Lower East Side over a more humble upbringing.

Just Business is the first album in four years for BDOD, and signifies a departure from some of the stylings of his first three albums – most notably, the vocal mixing has now brought Barrett’s voice to the forefront. “For years I’ve been known as ‘The Garage Rock Guy’ and I think this record highlights how much of a better singer and songwriter I’ve gotten to be.” The track “Heavy,” the most unique on the album, displays Barrett’s voice cutting through gospel-like organs singing the likes of “In that moment I saw my future and past.”

Along with a matured sound, the time between albums has allowed Barrett to welcome new influences into his music. He most recently supported English rock duo Royal Blood on their U.S. tour, and U.K. influences seep through on tracks like “I Love You (I Think)” and “Too High.” “Falling Up” almost sounds like a track out of the White Stripes backlog, while “Diamond In the Rough” and “Leaving” reminisce on BDOD’s older catalogue.

The album was co-produced by Barrett and producers Jason Bell and Jordan Miller (AKA “The Heavy”: Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness The Dirty Heads), and is the first release for Red Music after a string of releases on the Fat Possum and Innovative Leisure labels.


BDOD is currently in the midst of his fall tour promoting Just Business. John Barrett and his band will be showcasing his NYC-inspired tunes this Monday, October 29th at the Bowery Ballroom – a fitting venue for a band that has pulled much of its current sound from the grit of the LES. If you still have energy left after Halloween weekend, I highly recommend trekking out on a Monday to check him out. You can grab your tickets here.

Bass Drum of Death Fall Tour