I had heard their single Midway all over my favorite public radio station back home in Minnesota this past summer, but I never really researched much into the band until after I saw them open for Hippo Campus in November. Openers can be very hit or miss; either they vibe with the crowd or they disappointingly don’t, but I can honestly say Bad Bad Hats is extremely impressive.
The Minnesota based three-piece, Kerry Alexander (guitar and vocals), Chris Hoge (drums), and Noah Boswell (bass), got their start as a band a few years ago. They all grew up playing music, writing, Alexander even used to record amateur demos in her mother’s walk in shower. Signed to Afternoon Records, the band released their first EP in 2013, Hurts, and their debut LP, Psychic was out in July 2015. Their name comes from the children’s book Madeline and the Bad Hat, in which the character Pepito was called a bad hat, an innocent name for something terrible, and it was fitting for the band and their sound. They’ve been on tour twice, supporting Mynabirds and Hippo Campus, and just announced an upcoming tour opening for Hey Marseilles.
Their songs exude their youthfulness into a catchy indie pop sound. Unlike their last tour mates, Hippo Campus, they tend to keep things, music-wise, fairly simple, yet do so in a new and tasteful way. Kerry’s clear vocals, at first listen, evoke descriptors such as ‘dainty’ and ‘innocent’, yet her lyrics are a brilliant translation of shamelessly personal accounts that are relatable to a more collective audience.
I have tried to think of artists they are comparable to, and I can’t seem to put my finger on anyone in particular; their sound is all their own. I chatted with Kerry the other day and we talked about many a subject, but one that came up was being compared to other bands, specifically female lead bands and female musicians. “We get grouped with women just because I’m a woman, when we really don’t sound anything like those other artists. [. . .] I call it lazy journalism.” On stage, front woman Kerry Alexander reminded me very much of Greta Gerwig as Frances Ha, in a very good way. There was a nearly tangible happiness from the band as they played, with the tidbits about the story behind songs, huge smiles, and a little ‘rock n roll move’ that I was later told, they had been working on for a while.
Bad Bad Hats is gaining traction over here with songs like Super America (which she said at the November show, was blatantly about the exclusively Minnesotan gas station chain) you can almost hear the smiles in the breezy vocals. Shame is a bit noisier than their usual sound, a bit like what an angst-filled sugar high might be in music form. It turned out to be one of my favorite songs of the year, with the goofiest music video I’ve seen in a while, which reminds the audience of their youth, but also to never grow up.
This piece was originally written for The Indie Daydreamer, a super cool online music magazine based out of London, much like this here bloggo! Go follow Indie, they’re a great publication!