Boozewa Premiere “Black Flag?” From First Contact Demo

Posted in audiObelisk on January 21st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

boozewa

West Chester, Pennsylvania’s Boozewa release their First Contact demo tape on Feb. 5. The play, phonetically, is on “bourgeois,” and while I have no doubt that the four cuts on the 14-minute long demo will inspire no shortage of wax poetry about things like the ‘real’ and the ‘authentic,’ the truth of the matter is I don’t have time for that shit and neither do you. You know what Boozewa are? Wholesome.

That’s right. Fucking wholesome.

The three-piece formed last year, with Mike Cummings and Jessica Baker of Backwoods Payback and Rylan Caspar (formerly also of Backwoods Payback) stuck in lockdown. It’s not hard to imagine how the band happened: stick artists in a room with some instruments and see what happens. Cummings drums, Baker plays bass, Caspar guitar, and they all add vocals at some point in the midst of “Black Flag?,” “Those Who Deny the Existence of Robots May, in Fact, Be Robots Themselves,” “Full Tank” and “No Name Maddox,” which should come across familiar enough to Backwoods Payback listeners but still sound like the band went back to ground and started over from their original lo-fi punk foundation.

boozewa first contactI suspect because that’s exactly what happened. “Black Flag?” — premiering below — is a melodic punker of thickened tone that rides its bass, drum and riff groove toward a sing-along hook that, recorded on a four-track as it was, sounds raw as all hell and likely got its name for how the central riff in its second half draws from the band in question, as if to ask, “is this from Black Flag?” Yeah, maybe.

“…Robots…” and “Full Tank” are shorter but carry the same vibe forward, somewhere between punk, heavy rock and pandemic-age whatthefuckdoIdonow-ery, and “No Name Maddox” — the longest track at a sprawling 4:14, though it finishes early and leaves behind some swirly noise to close — caps in instrumental fashion, underscoring the purpose throughout First Contact about the simple act of playing, of making something, as an expression of restlessness. Not like they could go and play shows, as they otherwise might have done. Holed up together with post-apocalyptic dystopia flourishing outside, they tracked a demo.

And that’s why I call it wholesome. Because what you’re hearing in First Contact is these three players bring there for each other, contributing to making something together. I’ll spare you the COVID-19 sincerity™ since you’ve probably seen it enough in car insurance commercials by now, but from 45,000-year-old cave paintings to these very songs, humans make art as an expression of support for one another. It’s raw — this is a demo tape and it sounds like it — but unmistakable.

Enjoy:

Michael Rudolph Cummings on “Black Flag?”:

“To me the best songs are the ones that just ‘happen’. No memory of the time before them or how they got there, they just appear and feel like they’ve always been with you. Woke up one morning in a haze from the night before and this song was recorded on the 4 track with a note in the cassette case that read “black flag?” Much like its namesake this tune is best listened to fully cranked with the rulebook thrown out the window!”

Featuring members of Pennsylvania’s Backwoods Payback, Boozewa brings those wall-shaking, glass-clattering riffs in ways that will be no surprise to longtime BWPB fans…. And a knock in the back of the head for everyone else!

The new band is comprised of BWPB alum Jessica Baker on bass and Mike Cummings on drums and lead vocals, joined by Rylan Caspar on guitar; Baker and Caspar are handling backing vocal duties as well.

The demo was entirely recorded and mixed by the band on a 90s Tascam 4-track tape machine at the compound. It was mastered for the cassette release by Mike Bardzik at Noisy Little Critter in Downingtown, PA.

This demo, titled First Contact, will be available in cassette and digital formats on February 5th 2021.

Boozewa:
Rylan Caspar plays guitar
Jessica Baker plays bass
Mike Cummings plays drums and sings (sometimes)

Boozewa on Instagram

Boozewa on Bandcamp

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Boozewa Announce First Contact Demo out Feb. 5

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 11th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

boozewa

Any Starfleeter worth their replicated salt knows no mission is more important than First Contact. Thus one assumes that the upcoming four-song debut demo from West Chester, PA, lockdown project Boozewa will arrive with no shortage of diplomatic fanfare. Remember, you don’t want to alarm the natives of the planet, but you do want to tell them that there’s a whole galactic federation out there and that no, they’re not that special and, no, the world isn’t flat, and so on. Good fun.

Boozewa made their debut at the recent Mutants of the Monster II and features three current/former members of primo dirt rockers Backwoods Payback, if in somewhat shifted configuration. Suffice it to say the new band formed during quarantine and finds them having realigned the matter transducers to tap into the auxiliary EPS grids in order to create a kind of plasma flux in the nacelles, drawing energy from non-essential systems. There’s a chance the whole ship might explode, but it should work if they time it just right.

For those who believe in linear time, the demo is out Feb. 5, as per the PR wire:

boozewa first contact

Boozewa – First Contact

The good cheese on recyclable plates – BOOZEWA!
Bloody Marys in the fancy glasses – BOOZEWA!
Bottom shelf scotch
Top shelf riffs
BOOZEWA!

Featuring members of Pennsylvania’s Backwoods Payback, Boozewa brings those wall-shaking, glass-clattering riffs in ways that will be no surprise to longtime BWPB fans…. And a knock in the back of the head for everyone else!

The new band is comprised of BWPB alum Jessica Baker on bass and Mike Cummings on drums and lead vocals, joined by Rylan Caspar on guitar; Baker and Caspar are handling backing vocal duties as well. The band says of their four-song demo,

“Making music during a time when you literally could not do anything else just made sense. We were lucky that a wave of inspiration decided to crest in the spring of 2020 and even luckier still there we all had a house full of gear to make it happen. We have no idea what 2021 holds for this band but wherever we end up, you will for sure hear us coming…

The demo was entirely recorded and mixed by the band on a 90s Tascam 4-track tape machine here at the compound. It was mastered for the cassette release by Mike Bardzik at Noisy Little Critter in Downingtown, PA.

The cassettes were all run off individually by hand and assembled at the compound as well. This release is possibly as DIY as you can get. It was a labor of love.”

This demo, titled First Contact, will be available in cassette and digital formats on February 5th 2021.

Tracklisting:
01 Black Flag?
02 Those Who Deny the Existence of Robots, May, in Fact, Be Robots Themselves
03 Full Tank
04 No Name Maddox

Boozewa:
Rylan Caspar plays guitar
Jessica Baker plays bass
Mike Cummings plays drums and sings (sometimes)

https://www.instagram.com/boozewa/
https://boozewa.bandcamp.com/

Boozewa, “Farm Witch (Reprise)”

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MRC: Backwoods Payback Frontman to Release Solo EP This Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

mrc backwoods payback

The creativity born of restlessness. How was your quarantine? Was it productive? Well, if not, there’s always the next one, apparently. For Backwoods Payback guitarist/vocalist Michael Rudolph Cummings, the early part of the summer resulted in three new solo songs that he’ll release this week under the banner of MRC, or if you go by the logo, mRc. The EP is called What Year is It?, suitably enough, and is being self-released by Cummings with proceeds headed to the ACLU, which, you know, is legit. I don’t know who was involved in this recording with him — he calls the backing band The Souvenirs and has toured as mRc and the Souvenirs in the past — but the last time Cummings did an mRc release was 2015’s More Barn (streaming below) and that band included Jessica Baker from Backwoods Payback as well as Dan Metzker and Pat Shannon from Philly’s Hold Down the Ocean as well as drummer Mike Bardzik, who engineered that recording and also just engineered the new Hold Down the Ocean EP, Sidereal Month.

What Year is It? comprises three tracks and runs from heavier-ended Americana to more straight up ’90s alt worship and is a step-aside from some of the more intense fare that Backwoods Payback has unleashed over their last couple records, though Cummings‘ voice and songwriting are nothing if not characteristic. Kind of a fan-piece here, maybe, but hell, it’s a three-song tape, I can’t imagine he’s making too many of them, and all the money goes to the ACLU. You could do worse.

Incidentally, it’s definitely 2020. Sometimes feels like 1620.

Announcement is quick:

mrc-what-year-is-it-tape

mRc – What Year is It? EP

August 7th I’m releasing a brand new mRc ep. Three songs written the first week of June and recorded the second week of July with the souvenirs. These songs are now. It’s never too late.

100% of the proceeds will be going to the @aclu_nationwide to ensure we can all keep fighting the good fight……

don’t give up.

https://michaelrudolphcummings.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/backwoodspayback/
http://instagram.com/backwoodspayback
https://backwoodspayback.bandcamp.com/
https://www.backwoodspayback.com/

MRC, More Barn (2015)

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The Obelisk Presents: Backwoods Payback & Cavern September Tour

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on July 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

cavern

backwoods payback

Easiest conversation I had last week went like this, “Hey man, we’re doing some shows with Cavern, you wanna present the tour?” “Yes. Duh.”

That’s not quite verbatim, but it’s enough to give you the gist anyhow, and when it’s Backwoods Payback doing the asking, the answer’s just about always going to be yes. Even if I hadn’t seen the Pennsylvania/Virginia three-piece last month at Maryland Doom Fest 2019 (review here) and been so thoroughly blown away, they’re reliable the way people think of sunrise as being reliable, and I’m too busy indulging delusions of relevance any time they ask for anything to say no. “Well, if Backwoods think it’s cool, I must be on to something,” and so on.

But lo! There’s intrigue here too, as the Marylanders Cavern will be heading out in their newfangled trio incarnation, having welcomed bassist Rose Heater to the lineup with guitarist/synthesist Zach Harkins and drummer Stephen Schrock and, for the first time, turning not just from a two-piece to a three-piece, but from an instrumental to a vocal-topped outfit as well. In order to “demonstrate their style” — as Madball once put it — Cavern put up the post-rocky, prog-tinged single “Fade Before the Flood” in April. You can hear it streaming down at the bottom of this post. Indeed, it sounds like something I’d want to check out live.

And because any excuse to put it on and I’m happy, I’ve included Backwoods Payback‘s 2018 album, Future Slum (review here), as well. I know you’ve heard me say it a ton of times by now, but if you haven’t given that record its due, the time is now. Quick, before they put out another one!

Genuinely thrilled to be involved here in the small way I am. Go see these bands on this tour:

backwoods payback cavern tour dates

Cavern & Backwoods Payback Sept. Tour:
09/23 Cleveland OH Now That’s Class
09/24 Youngstown OH Westside Bowl
09/25 Erie PA Basement Transmissions
09/26 Buffalo NY Mohawk Place
09/27 Toronto ON Bovine Sex Club
09/28 Montreal QC Turbo Haus
09/29 Philadelphia PA Kung Fu Necktie

CAVERN:
Stephen Schrock- Drums
Zach Harkins- Guitar/Synth
Rose Heater- Bass/Vocals

BACKWOODS PAYBACK:
Jessica Baker – Bass
Mike Cummings – Guitar/vocals
Erik Larson – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/cavernmd/
https://cavernmd.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/backwoodspayback/
https://backwoodspayback.bandcamp.com/

Cavern, “Fade Before the Flood”

Backwoods Payback, Future Slum (2018)

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Backwoods Payback Post “Pirate Smile” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

backwoods payback logo

I’ll admit I have no experience trying to manifest psychic weaponry of any sort, let alone a knife. If I did, I think I might go with a type-two phaser set to heavy stun and just shoot myself with it so I could get a full night’s sleep. But that aside, the visual theme to coincide with Backwoods Payback‘s “Pirate Smile” makes sense when one thinks of, you know, someone smiling at you and then stabbing you. There’s a connection there. It’s psychic. You can’t see it. But it’s there.

Also pretty easy to imagine envisioning a knife as a decent mindset for playing a show.

The song itself has a vaguely socio-political stance in terms of its lyrics — resulting in, among other things, a fun punk rocker’s emphasis on the word “fucked” as it’s presented in all-caps below — and the West Chester, PA/Richmond, VA three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings, bassist Jessica Baker and drummer Erik Larson bring a likeminded uptempo kick to the track that they always seem to nail. There’s plenty of it to be heard on last year’s Future Slum (review here) and there was plenty of it when I saw the band this past weekend at Maryland Doom Fest 2019 (review here). They were a highlight of that festival, of course, as they’re a highlight pretty much of everything they do.

I don’t know if they’ve got more touring in the works this year or not — no, I didn’t ask; it’s not like I’m chasing bands around with a press card in my hat and mining for information; “Word on the street is you’re heading to Indy, can you confirm?” — but having so recently done so, I’ll reiterate that if you can see Backwoods Payback, do it. That’s pretty much all I have to say about it by now. I don’t care if you’re already a fan or not. If you can make it happen, make it happen.

Enjoy the video:

Backwoods Payback, “Pirate Smile” official video

From the 2018 Album, Future Slum

“The Initiates Guide to the Envisioning and the Initial Applications of the Knife”

www.backwoodspayback.com

a ship of sinking fools unaware of rising tides this population screwed standing in the bread or party lines in a word all they do is lie and they only work to waste all of our time in a way maybe I was blind now I’m old enough to open up my eyes you repeat the past mistakes I refuse to play in this charade a whole generation FUCKED cleaning up the messes that you’ve made in a word all you do is lie and you only work to waste all of my time ain’t no way no more I’ll be blind now I’m old enough to open up my eyes…what do you believe?

Shot by John Keefer & Chris Johnson
Edited by Chris Johnson
a 51DEEP Production

Backwoods Payback, Future Slum (2018)

Backwoods Payback on Thee Facebooks

Backwoods Payback on Instagram

Backwoods Payback on Twitter

Backwoods Payback on Bandcamp

Backwoods Payback website

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Backwoods Payback Touring in March

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

backwoods payback

It will have been a couple months by the time Backwoods Payback hit the road again on their next DIY tour, this one headed west and south through a cut of the Midwest en route to SXSW in Austin, Texas, where they’ll play on March 14 before hitting Houston and leaving the Lone Star State behind with a couple more shows to wrap up. The Pennsylvania/Virginia (Pennsylginia?) three-piece will continue to support last year’s right-on-right-on Future Slum (review here), which put them ahead of the curve on any kind of grunge revival happening in the heavy underground while keeping to the punk root — and, clearly, work ethic — that’s been present in their sound all along.

To that end, don’t think the use of Raymond Pettibon art in their latest tour poster is a mistake or a coincidence, let alone the Black Flag-esque logo. They’re clearly aware of the kind of road-sloggery they’re doing, and while one doubts they’re eating dogfood — pretty sure convenience store burritos are cheaper anyway; plus they’re too friendly not to get fed — their commitment to “in the van” is admirable. Admirable enough you should get out and see them, anyhow. And maybe buy a t-shirt or an LP. You know, support and all that stuff that everyone hashtags nowadays.

Hashtag blessed, hashtag PR wire:

backwoods payback march tour

Backwoods Payback March Tour

Backwoods Payback
March 2019
SXSW TOUR

Heading back out and hitting the spots we have been missing.

Week never ends up right? Don’t let that dull your knife!

Backwoods Payback March 2019:
7- sprout music West Chester PA
8- now that’s class Cleveland OH
9- melody inn Indianapolis IN
10- livewire Chicago IL
11- the blue room Dubuque IA
12- bottleneck Lawrence KS
13- Witts end Dallas TX
14- spider house Austin TX
15- rudyards Houston TX
16- boom boom room Lafayette LA
17- growlers Memphis TN
18- highlands tap Louisville KY

Tour event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/386403138780580/

BACKWOODS PAYBACK:
Jessica Baker – Bass
Mike Cummings – Guitar/vocals
Erik Larson – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/backwoodspayback/
https://backwoodspayback.bandcamp.com/

Backwoods Payback, Future Slum (2018)

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Backwoods Payback Announce November/December Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

backwoods payback

There are some really good shows on this tour. Boston. Brooklyn. Houston. New Orleans. Atlanta. And in between there aren’t many bummers to be found either, frankly. Backwoods Payback, whose recent live sets rank among some of the best I’ve seen domestically this year, head out once again supporting their 2018 album, Future Slum (review here), which, if you haven’t heard it, why not? They’ll do the Northeast and head south before cutting west into Texas, basically tying together a long weekender and a longer stretch as they do, en route to wrapping in North Carolina back on a northern swing. I could tell you to go see them and blah blah blah and all that kind of crap, but the bottom line is that the stream of Future Slum is embedded down there under the PR wire info for the tour, and you don’t check it out, it’s your loss. The rest of the blathering I’ll save for year-end list time.

Okay then:

backwoods payback tour

BACKWOODS PAYBACK ANNOUNCE TOUR

Sludgy grunge outfit Backwoods Payback are about to embark on a tour in support of their recent album Future Slum, sharing the stage with Doomstress, Royal Thunder, and many more on their way from the Northeast to Texas and back.

Says the band:
“Future Slum is here and it’s time to start spreading it across the land.

We are heading to some areas we haven’t toured in quite some time and a few bucket list destinations as well. The lineups for these shows are nuts. They form a pretty solid vision of where we come from, where we are, and where we are going.

This is just the beginning… Watch the trees, look past the tip of the knife… We will be running with the wolves.”

Order/Stream Future Slum here: https://backwoodspayback.bandcamp.com/album/future-slum

Tour Dates
11/16 – Midway (Boston MA) w/ Set Fire, Cortez, Lord Fowl
11/17 – Brickhouse (Dover, NH) w/ Set Fire, Scrimmy the Dirtbag, The Humanoids
11/18 – St. Vitus (Brooklyn, NY) w/ River Cult, Eternal Black, Blackout
11/19 – Basement Transmissions (Erie, PA) w/ Fog Giant
11/25 – Banditos (Richmond, VA) w/ Book Of Wyrms
11/27 – Springwater (Nashville, TN) w/ Shadow Horse, Hogan’s Goat
11/28 – Dan Electros (Houston, TX) w/ Doomstress, Red Beard Wall, Mr. Plow
11/29 – The Mix (San Antonio, TX) w/ Red Beard Wall
11/30 – Lost Well (Austin, TX) w/ Red Beard Wall
12/1 – Santos (New Orleans, LA) w/ Suplecs, Choke
12/2 – The Earl (Atlanta, GA) w/ Order of the Owl, Royal Thunder
12/3 – Slims (Raleigh, NC) w/ Chaosmic

BACKWOODS PAYBACK:
Jessica Baker – Bass
Mike Cummings – Guitar/vocals
Erik Larson – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/backwoodspayback/
https://backwoodspayback.bandcamp.com/

Backwoods Payback, Future Slum (2018)

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Review & Video Premiere: Backwoods Payback, Future Slum

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on August 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

backwoods payback future slum

[Click play above to view the premiere of Backwoods Payback’s ‘Generals.’ Their new album, Future Slum, is out now.]

Future Slum could hardly sound more sincere if Backwoods Payback had cut themselves open and bled it out. And, listening to the melodic, post-grunge ending of “It Ain’t Right” — an Alice in Chains reference, maybe? — I’m not entirely sure they didn’t. There are raging moments as the album begins at a sprint in “Pirate Smile” and “Generals” seems to lay hands on the listener only to shove them out of its way, and the later “Alone” offers tonal thickness and grooving lumber of a more seasoned pace. This while “Lines” finds the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings, bassist Jessica Baker and drummer Erik Larson locked into blood-boiling tension before skillfully cramming in one last chorus for the opening salvo that ends with the rolling “Whatever” bringing forth a hook that one might call “signature” before guest vocalist Mlny Parsonz of Royal Thunder hurls out a scream that reminds of the harsher edge Backwoods Payback stand ready to unleash at any given moment.

Rest assured, Cummings will answer soon enough in “Threes” at the end of side A as Larson gives his toms a torrential workover, and “Generals” wants nothing either in terms of aggro edge. To the notion of authenticity as a myth in terms of art or, really, anything — it’s a false standard at the very least — Future Slum is a challenge. It is so much the band’s own, and so much of it comes across as an arrival point in their ongoing growth, that in kind with the atmospheric spaces it covers in “Cinderella” and “Alone,” its punk, metal, grunge and heavy rock elements craft an identity that stands in the middle of a Venn diagram of genres while delivering a hard no to committing to any of them for more than the purposes of the single track being served. And as they make their way through the 10 songs/34 minutes of Future Slum, what ties their disparate ideas together — aside from Baker‘s basslines, which would probably be enough on their own — ends up being that flat-out refusal to play to style or be anything other than the band they’ve become.

This isn’t accidental, of course. Backwoods Payback have never been shy in terms of getting out and touring, and as they returned in trio form with 2016’s Fire Not Reason (review here) after a half-decade’s relative quiet — they had a 2012 live release (discussed here) and 2014’s In the Ditch EP (review here) filling that gap — following 2011’s Small Stone-delivered sophomore album, Momantha (review here), they maintained their commitment to pushing their sound forward on stage. Future Slum only benefits from this on a performance level, as CummingsBaker and Larson are tighter as a unit than they were even just two years ago, and one can hear it in the initial thrust of “Pirate Smile” as much as the dug-in emotionalism of the memorable “Big Enough,” a wistful highlight as much for its self-harmonizing as the instrumental build happening beneath, culminating in a wash and some quiet strum soon enough devoured by the opening riff of the penultimate “Alone.”

backwoods payback (Photo by Useless Rebel)

I used to call Backwoods Payback “dirt rock,” and there’s an aspect of that still applicable, but Future Slum makes easy tags a thing of the past, and as a fan, it’s all the more an exciting release for that. It’s been two full-lengths thus far, but since Cummings and Baker brought in Larson on drums, one can hear in the songs not that they’re playing against each other, but that all three members of the band are challenging each other to make the whole group stronger. And they do. Future Slum has three inclusions over four minutes long, and the band’s execution is accordingly teeth-grindingly tight, but as they continue to refine their processes and their delivery, their output makes it plain for anyone to hear that they’ve reached a new level in style and substance. Fortunately, in accord with this is a consistency of songwriting. Cummings‘ lyrics are spit poetry and the forward drive he, Baker and Larson are able to conjure amid dynamic turns of tempo and melody, is unmistakable. Fire Not Reason laid the foundation, and as a result of that, Future Slum is the strongest release they’ve ever had.

That’s true in terms of performance, craft and overall production sound, which remains thick where and when it needs to be while allowing the three-piece to still have a live feel and highlight nuances like the layered-in guitar effects in the second half of the opener or the timely shouts that punctuate the lines of “Generals.” Following the weighted nod of “Alone,” “Lucky” closes out as the longest cut at 4:57 and seems to find some middle ground in a Sabbathian central riff and steady initial pace, but true to form, it ups the tempo in a classically metallic turn — no less Sabbath, for that matter — that soon enough gives way to the slower chorus before landing in a chug that seems to disintegrate as it fades out, ending Future Slum with a bit of tension that one might even dare to think Backwoods Payback would answer with the start of their next album. Whether they do or don’t, and wherever they might go from here, the organic nature of their progression only makes Future Slum all the more of an accomplishment.

Some 11 years removed from their self-titled debut, they’ve risen to their own challenge and come together to create something special and truly theirs. It’s not dirt rock. It’s not stoner, or Southern rock, or doom or grunge or hardcore punk or whatever else. It’s Backwoods Payback. They’ve carved their sonic persona out of all of these things, and most of all, stayed true to themselves while embracing such a breadth of influence. In their faster and slower songs alike, one can hear the sense of immediacy, and it’s completely reasonable why. Backwoods Payback have been around, and they’re not dumb. This is a moment they’ve managed to capture, and there are parts of Future Slum that sound like they’re almost chasing after themselves before they get away. That’s not a negative at all. Rather, as it manifests here, it serves notice of the consciousness underlying their efforts, and they’re right. This is a watershed for them. Their urgency is nothing if not well placed.

Backwoods Payback, Future Slum (2018)

Backwoods Payback on Thee Facebooks

Backwoods Payback on Instagram

Backwoods Payback on Twitter

Backwoods Payback on Bandcamp

Backwoods Payback website

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