Blvck Hippie are lacing up their skates with “Silent Disco”, the latest single to be released from their new album Basketball Camp, out June 14th via The Record Machine label. “This is the only love song I’ve ever written,” shares Blvck Hippie’s Josh Shaw (they/them), “and it’s about meeting my girlfriend at an AJJ show that I decided to go to at the last minute with a friend from college. I wanted the song to feel nostalgic and my main sonic reference was the Curious George theme song from the 80s and the thought of my childhood living room.” The Memphis, TN band will tour in support of the new album this spring and summer. Tickets are on sale now with dates taking place in cities throughout the south, east coast and midwest. A full list of dates can be found below.

“I wanted to write a record that I needed to hear in high school.” shares Shaw . With Basketball Camp, Blvck Hippie faces down overwhelming anxieties and insecurities through endearingly bleary eyed indie rock, dreamy off kilter pop, free jazz interludes, and cathartic freak outs. Basketball Camp is the follow up to the band’s promising debut LP If You Feel Alone at Parties, which FLOOD Magazine praised as “not only a must-listen, but a must-repeat-listen, many times in a row; a lo-fi, rhythm-and-blues-and-indie, heartbreaking mini-epic about growing up and out and over while blossoming weirdly anew and expressing genuine poetic thought every time you hear it.”

Blvck Hippie has described their own mission statement as being a band “tryna show Black kids they can be weird too.” And undoubtedly it’s an idea that the broader indie rock community could benefit from hearing more often and internalizing as well. Shaw’s own lived experience growing up as a “weird” black kid in a southern city has taught them why spreading such a message can be so positively impactful.

There are many other tracks on the album that speak to race. “Cain & Abel Fighting” says Shaw “is meant to represent how nuanced the black experience is, and how we view our own blackness.” The song’s three contrasting movements – a free jazz section inspired by Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, a rap verse, and a third act with spacey indie vibes – help depict those multitudes sonically. Meanwhile, “A Spike Lee Joint” “discusses the struggles of being black in America, from appropriation to police brutality.” Blvck Hippie’s music and lyrics are without doubt an illuminating window into the diversity of the black experience, not to mention the complexities of existing and making art within a predominantly white indie rock scene, but the songs on Basketball Camp also speak to religious trauma, childhood nostalgia, and finding acceptance, forgiveness, and love for oneself.

Shaw grew up as the child of a pastor, a complex relationship they detail on the title track “Basketball Camp”. “The first time I really felt close to my dad was when I started playing basketball,” share’s Shaw. “Growing up with a pastor father is complicated and I’m wrestling with that in this song as I try and figure out how to be a father myself.” Another track, “Chairman Drive”, is named after the location of Shaw’s childhood church and church school. The song is centered around processing the religious trauma and guilt fostered during their childhood. Yet while Blvck Hippie spends time processing the past, there’s a decided foothold in the promise of the present in their songs. Album closer “Try To Stay Lucky” exemplifies that sentiment. “The overarching theme is being OK with how you turned out” says Shaw.

On Basketball Camp, Blvck Hippie expand upon the VHS-inspired sonic journey they first embarked upon with If You Feel Alone At Parties. The album was recorded at a home studio in Binghamton, Memphis by the band, and then mixed and mastered by Greg Giorgio (PUP, The National, Death Cab for Cuties, Local Natives). “I wanted to get back to the feeling I had recording in the back of my parent’s house out of college,” says Shaw. “We collected a bunch of mics and guitars from friends and from places I can’t disclose lol.” For Shaw the biggest leap forward in their craft can be traced to their growth as a seasoned live act. “When I wrote and recorded the first record we hadn’t really toured and we were in the middle of shutdown,” they share. “Parties” was written without live shows in mind. Touring heavily in 2021/2022 changed all that which led to me approaching this record more freely than in the past and made things turn out weirder.

That freedom and weirdness manifests itself in a confident genre agnostic journey that seamlessly transitions between twinkly midwest emo guitars, early aughts Lower East Side indie rock, woozy chillwave, spoken word and jazz. With songs structured more like acts in a play than your typical verse / chorus / verse, at every turn the listener comes across something delightfully unexpected. And in a nod to the rich musical history of the band’s hometown, and the underappreciated present day artistic scene therein, a choir of Memphis artists contribute their voices to various songs, acting as a storytelling device tying the record’s various threads together. That Memphis chorus fittingly closes out the album in joyful reverie as Shaw expounds upon an apprehensive but hopeful message to anyone listening. “I definitely haven’t made it over the mountain, but I’ve gotten higher than I’ve ever been so far.”

Featured image by Vivian Cheslack.

SOURCE: Official Bio