Review: The PDX Broadsides – “Relatable Content”

This year I have sponsored a lot of Kickstarter creative work, including lots of music. One that I was very excited to support was The PDX Broadsides’ latest album, Relatable Content. They started off as a pirate shanty band and have evolved into a nerd filk band whose songs range from silly to profound. I really enjoyed their last album, Trust Issues, which had some pretty timely songs like Noncompliant (superficially about the Bitch Planet comic, but actually about the Me Too era) and We Want Rey (about representation in nerd toydom). It also had some fun songs (both feature Christian as the lead) like Tiny Little Octopus and Robot vs Boy (which I want to see made into a mini-musical). Their last Kickstarter also had a dirty album called Lust Issues that continued their trend of Shakespeare music with the great Dirtbag Romeo and their dirtier songs from their pirate shanty days with It’s Just Sex.

They’re going to once again release a commentary album that will explain all their songs (that was a really awesome part of the last KS), but since it’s not out yet, I’m just going to talk about what I get out of each of their songs and what I think they mean.

1. Let The Wild Rumpus Start – this song references Where the Wild Things Are and, together with the next track have a late 1800s/early 1900s sound to them. It’s a fun sound for the band to explore and I’d like to maybe see a concept album go in that direction.

2. Together Breakfast – I’m not sure what this song is referencing, but overall it kind of just makes me think of having breakfast with a best friend or significant other and the fact that it’s usually comfort food that can make things feel great.

3. Jerkbrain – this one is pretty self-explanatory (and also they explained it during a Kickstarter update). It’s about when your brain betrays you like saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way for a situation.

4. Buffalo – Another Christian silly song. It’s also my kids’ favorite song on this album. It involves the narrator attempting to ride various wild animals and having things go awry. It’s pretty silly, but it’s really fun to listen to.

5. Love Good – I’m not sure what, if anything this is referencing, or at least I wasn’t until I googled “Nargles”. I figured this would lead me to the reference and it did. It’s a Harry Potter reference (I’m sure all the younger book readers got that right away, but I came to it in college and so while I appreciate the books, they don’t mean as much to me as the younger crowd). Essentially, it seems to be an ode to being neuro-atypical using Luna Lovegood as a metaphor.

6. Orpheus – I had to look up Orpheus because I’m not really well-read on the greek stories beyond the main characters – Zeus, Hercules, etc. From what I can hear of the lyrics, I think it’s about media, social media, etc consuming all of our attention so that we can’t engage in critical thinking. The singing is powerful and I enjoy the music as well.

7. Rewind – I love this song both lyrically and sonically. Basically it’s about moments you wish you could rewind. That happens to me all too often if I’m trying to be clever or speak without thinking things through.

8. Lost at Sea – A slow song that really showcases singing range. I’m not 100% what the metaphor is, but it’s almost definitely about a relationship ending.

9. The Alligators – Uses alligators as metaphors for all the haters out there. Very enjoyable.

10. House of the Wind – Based on the Kingkiller Chronicles – I only know this because of a Kickstarter update. I think they mentioned it’s about the feelings of performing on stage.

11. Heartless – About the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. It posits that she used to be much nicer before, but some crisis has left her heartless and that’s why she acts the way we see her in the stories.

12. Serotonin Dopamine – A song about those chemicals that control our emotions and how much they affect us. I really like Christian’s cadence in the song and the backup vocals work really well where they appear.

13. Winter is Coming – A really fun song from the point of view of Arya from The Game of Thrones. It was their first single from the album and probably my second favorite song.

Overall this is a great album that has the group continue to evolve musically and lyrically and I heartily recommend it. The best part is that you can listen to it for free on their bandcamp page or listen via Spotify or one of the other music sites before deciding to buy. (And buying does support them more than streaming fees)