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Pyrrhic Victory’s self-proclaimed Philly hillbilly Bug Martin has crept out from the shadows of the last four years to delight us with their four-song collection What Remains, and we are stoked to be your supplier. We were keen on their instant-classic from 2019 Gutterball, and this release builds on that legacy.
What Remains chimes in on a brilliant two-chord sway accompanied by harmonica for the poignant opener “Six Against One.” Much like the structure for the duration of this record, it feels like I’m sitting on the porch listening as the remaining players find their way to their instruments, introducing themselves one at a time. Bug’s delivery is as devastating as it is enlightening, relating “I’m sittin’ here trying to decide what’s more important: my pain or my pride, and which hurt to live with inside.”
Bug Martin & Co. employ a rural sound to convey feelings of urban desolation, and they really stick on the rest of this album: the sweep and swell of pedal steel, plucky mandolins, Ray Drezner’s vocal harmonies that would make Emmylou Harris swoon, and even a whistle or two. The harmonies, in particular on the title track, really tickled me on this EP, adding dimension and depth but not robbing it of the stripped-down production style which undoubtedly serves these songs best. “O My Jackie” sounds like it could be a darker entry from the Cash songbook. “The Record” is an appropriate endcap-diddy for this collection: a perfectly structured ballad comparing the ebbs and flows of a relationship to the grooves and curves of a record, heavy, but not as crushing as the other three before it.
Bug shared some thoughts about the new songs:
“This collection of songs was written and recorded from 2021-2023 in many places, some of them real, some of them imagined.
For a long time I sat with these songs and wondered what they meant. For a while, I thought they were about the loss of something or someone; in each, there’s a parting. As I continued to explore them, I found I began to notice the space between the act and response. Something about them felt vacuous at points. These are songs written not about the piece removed, but the space it filled and the shape of it. This is a place many do not like to be. This is a place that, regardless, somewhere, exists in most or all of us. Many songs have come from this place; these are four of them.
Most of my music has been as a result of seasons changing literally and figuratively and this album is no different. I hope those listening can find some lightness in themselves while listening to the stories herein. With so much heaviness in the world from time to time, it can be useful to lean on stories to help us pull forward meaning from the intangible. In this way, songs and feelings are both time based art forms which take practice to master. They exist in our minds as both realistic and magical. Now you see them, now you don’t.
These songs were guided along their way by the help of Ray Drezner, Matt Zorzi, John Anthony DeMaio, and Dan Mulligan, all of whom I love and respect, and who helped me to see things more clearly.”
As another year winds down and those “best of” playlists find their way into your feeds, don’t forget about this one; you’ll be robbing yourself of something special.
Bug Martin (they/them): voice, rhythm guitar, bass on ‘Six Against One’ and ‘O My Jackie’, harmonica
Ray Drezner (they/them): vocal harmony
John Anthony DeMaio (he/him): lead guitar & bass on ‘The Record’
Dan Mulligan (he/him): pedal steel, mandolin
Matt Zorzi (he/him): drums
Recorded in Lancaster, Philadelphia, Downingtown, and on Hawk Mountain.
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