Radar Band Of The Week – Speedy Ortiz

By the time Sadie Dupuis asks, “If I’m despondent, who’s at fault?” on the final song from Speedy Ortiz’s brilliantly brutal debut album, ‘Major Arcana’, there’s no doubt that it’s anything but rhetorical. She’s spent the nine previous songs doling out hysterical Malkmus-worthy cusses to those who called her a witch, left her for dead and picked on her as a kid until she was sick with self-loathing. What’s miraculous, though, is that ‘Major Arcana’ doesn’t sound at all self-pitying: its torrid Slint-meets-Pavement rattle bolsters Sadie’s relished words so that yelling along is an exercise in gleefully exorcising your own demons. If you haven’t got a binder and some Tipp-Ex to hand, it’s the kind of record that’ll make you want to buy some, so you can profess yourself a “criminally twisted puny little villain” in a snarled scrawl.

The Northampton band (named after a character in cult graphic novel Love And Rockets) got its legs when Dupuis broke up her old group, Quilty, live onstage in late 2011. “This band is fucking done! Whoever wants to start a new band with me, talk to me later!” she declared. “I’m not typically that obnoxious,” she says with mock regret, through a Google Hangout window into her home. Mike Falcone, drummer with fellow north-easterners Ovlov, was in the crowd that night in 2011, and took Dupuis up on her offer. They were joined by Darl Ferm (bass) and Graph’s Matt Robidoux (guitar), and followed the release of their single ‘Taylor Swift’ (key lyric: “I got too many boyfriends to see you tonight”) with some hard touring around Massachusetts.

“The scene for house shows in Boston was really good and supportive,” says Sadie. Then cops started posing as punk fans online to rumble basement gigs. “Every house that was an established venue – even Gay Gardens, which might have been a show house in the 1980s – got shut down,” she laments. But the scene is self-sufficient and practical, more than adept at outsmarting the local feds. Although she’s slightly hungover and prone to self-deprecation today, there’s a strain of bravado in ‘Major Arcana’ that you wouldn’t be wise to mess with. “I’m getting my dick sucked on the regular”, she taunts on ‘Fun’. The police can join the queue.


Need To Know
Based: Northampton, MA
For Fans Of: At The Drive-In, Helium
Buy It Now: Debut album ‘Major Arcana’ is out now on Carpark
See Them Live: Not until early 2014, alas – although Mike’s excited as it’ll be his first ever time out of North America
Believe It Or Not: Sadie occasionally plays with an all-female Pavement covers band called – are you ready for this? – Babement
On NME.com: Check out this exclusive mixtape from the band