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Review: Subpunch – More Acoustic Songs: Sofa Swells

You know the rush of warmth and relief you feel when you finally get inside from a cold walk in the winter? That’s what the new subpunch release feels like.

More Acoustic Songs: Sofa Swells was recorded by band member Mason while quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic and released on March 29th, 2020. When I get bored, I rewatch all of Bojack Horseman on Netflix. When Mason gets bored, he writes and records a seven track acoustic album; and what a breath of fresh air it is to hear new music during such a stressful time.

The record begins with “Costanza,” an homage to George Costanza that establishes a rather light and fun mood. Something clear right away is that this release includes some of the catchiest guitar riffs I’ve heard from a local artist. It’s difficult to play “Nothing But Boots,” and not immediately want to play it over again. It was particularly touching to hear “Now we all have the flu / Just sit home and sing tunes” in between upbeat choruses of “la da da,” serving as a sweet reminder that we still have the agency to find happiness during a dark time. This was juxtaposed nicely with the following track, “Saw the Captain,” a more slow and somber ballad. Not just any band can make me feel warm and fuzzy inside one minute and then want to cry the next— subpunch is that band that can do both.

The song “Mind Vs. Body” is so groovy that I really hope it makes the cut for a professional recording for the next subpunch album. The tone then changes up a bit with the next track, “Georgia Has a Song, Why Can’t We? (I Love Massachusetts).” If there’s anything I love other than rewatching Netflix shows, it’s MA pride. This song has a dangerously catchy riff paired with fun verses that are reminiscent of everything I love about Massachusetts. It ends with repetitions of “Be grateful for everything you’ve got,” which stuck with me long after the song finished playing. It’s easy to forget how many good things you have when you’re surrounded by a world falling apart, so it’s very eye opening to hear these words and remember the importance of being thankful and positive.

There’s no denying what an intimate set of songs these are; they’re inspired by specific memories of walks around Winnekenni Castle in Haverhill, dreams, love, and, as it’s stated on the band’s Instagram, “going out on dates to drink hot sake.” It’s no wonder that these are the things one would reminisce about during quarantine. Hearing them in such a raw form makes me feel like I’m hearing an acoustic set at a house show again, just having a good time with my friends. That’s an especially rare feeling nowadays, and I’m glad I could experience it through this record. Many of us were looking forward to tours that were meant to be happening right now. We all had some plans to go to or even play a show that never happened, and god knows how long we have to wait until we can get back into the swing of things. Lots of local artists have been struggling because of the quarantine, but as long as we support great releases like More Acoustic Songs: Sofa Swells, the music community will stay as alive and strong as ever despite the setbacks.

-Morgan Gunning