Bat Zuppel is a Pittsburgh four-piece consisting of Zach Bronder, Matt Ruppel, Spencer Geer, and Gordy Brash. Formed in 2013, their last album Dylar, which was released last year, introduced the Steel City to their “high-energy, fuzzed-out garage rock” sound, as described by Meg Fair of City Paper. One year later and they’re back with a new album to be released on November 9th.
Their latest LP entitled MIRROR|RORRIM is a heavily punk and '90s/early '00s alternative inspired record. Throughout the tracks, several bands of all eras are brought to mind including the Ramones, Led Zeppelin, the later psychedelic-era Beatles, and Radiohead as well as a couple fresh names from the likes of Counterfeit., Dot Hacker, and Greta Van Fleet.
One thing that is always appreciated in an album is one that recognizes and acknowledges its influences. The aforementioned punk influence can be heard particularly on tracks like “Deja”, “She Has A Light”, “Agent P”, and “My Prophecy". However, there is such a varied sound from song to song that there lacks consistency. It can’t be said whether this is definitely a punk sounding record or a psychedelic sounding record, although both of those sounds are there throughout.
Standout tracks are: “She Has A Light”, “Suspicion”, “Take A Bow”, “Critter”, and “Passing of A Dream”.
“Deja” offers a great opening and welcome to this new world of Bat Zuppel, one that has evolved beyond the sound of their previous record. It's mostly in the front of the album where the most punk influence is heard and is very much enjoyed. Particularly track 2, "She Has A Light”, is reminiscent of the early sound coming out of CBGB in the 1970s. None of these tracks in the first few listings overstay their welcome, clocking in around around or under 3-3.5 minutes. Rare is it to find a song that make the most of a 5+ minute time, unless of course we’re talking about “Suspicion”.
Tracks that lack “Wow” factor: “My Prophecy”, “Resistance”
Starting with “My Prophecy” until the conclusion with “Critter”, the tracks start to lose their pull towards the end of the record. But there are always exceptions, and this time the exceptions are “Take A Bow” and “Critter”. The repetition towards the last few songs, particularly on "Love Machine”, becomes overwhelming and drags the track on for much longer than needed. Lyrically, the record leaves something to be desired. Lacking narrative or any sort of substance. the listener is left wondering wondering if these songs are actually about anything.
Bat Zuppel, through their evolution from one album to the next, is working hard to bring to Pittsburgh a new sound--theirs. A mix of ‘70s punk and psych and ‘90s alternative, MIRROR|RORRIM is an album that has the markings of being up there with the greats.
Bat Zuppel will be holding an album release party on November 9 at Spirit in Lawrenceville with supporting acts Rave Ami and The Gotobeds.
The album, MIRROR|RORRIM, will be released on November 9 by Redfishbowl, a Pittsburgh Art Collective. Their single, “She Has A Light” is out now on streaming services and Bandcamp.