Session 236: Brett Newski & the No Tomorrow // BingBong

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SBS236.19 BrettNewskiBingbong web Poster Design: Tracy Harris

September 11, 2019

Brett Newski has certainly kicked his own ass over the past 6 years, touring infinitely (mostly alone) and wandering down the rabbit hole of anxiety, depression, and wallowing self-doubt. All of these negatives have blossomed into positive creative energy on his third LP.

"Anxiety can actually be a good thing. If you use it right, that nervous energy can be channeled into motivation or creativity," explains Newski. "Even the most seemingly confident people have self doubt."

Produced by Hutch Harris of Sub-Pop & Saddle Creek legends The Thermals and engineered by Beau Sorenson (Death Cab for Cutie, Superchunk, Bob Mould), Life Upside Down is a beautiful catharsis to a happier brain and sense of belonging. If you frequently find yourself stuck in your own head traffic, this record might help get you free.


BingBong formed in 2012, quickly becoming one of Madison, Wisconsin’s favorite bands. It’s Complicated, the lead single to their debut album, won the 2017 Rock Song of the Year at this year’s Madison Area Music Award ceremony. Members of the band formed around their love for late-70s and early-80s guitar rock. Striving to revive the verve and the energetic power pop of that time, they’re heavily influenced by greats like Rockpile, The Pretenders, and The Smiths. BingBong’s raucous live shows—as witnessed by that blowout show at the storied Double Door in Chicago (2014)—speak to their ability to pack a larger venue with pure energy. Their local pub gigs yield a feeling of “Wow! I just witnessed something awesome!”

It’s BingBong’s good fortune to have two main songwriters with complementary but diverse writing styles. Pam Barrett is steeped in the “storyteller” tradition, writing songs that are visually evocative with characters & plots that come alive. Danny Hicks, through both his hook-laden guitar riffs and hard-hitting lyrics, is intensely, energetically, mood driven. Both have a knack for creating bright, shimmery melodies. This two-pronged approach gives BingBong a broad sonic canvas on which they paint their live shows. BingBong’s rhythm section keeps the heat on with Brian Bentley on drums and Julie Kiland on bass. Their ability to lock into a solid groove is key to making live shows electrifying!

BingBong has just released its debut album, Pop Restoration. It is a testament to the band’s philosophy that pop can, and should, ROCK! This is no milquetoast offering. The record ranges from the Americana-esque “Many Years” to the heavy-rocking “Sugar & Spice” to the pop-tastic “It’s Complicated.” The record is meant to be played from start to finish, old school. 33 1/3 old school. Album-Oriented Rock old school. BingBong kept it so 1979-old-school that they recorded all analog, 8 tracks only, no intervening digital transfer, and released their debut album on vinyl first. They even mastered specifically for vinyl at a restored (and storied!) studio called Welcome to 1979–where vacuum tubes still rule!

The verdict is in. Press coverage of Pop Restoration has been ravingly positive. Bob Koch of Isthmus writes, “BingBong has honed their guitar rock sound to a bright sheen.” Kiki Schueler of Kiki’s House of Righteous Music states, “…There’s a timeless quality to these songs.” and “…it’s hard to pick favorites on a record this consistently listenable.” Scott Gordon of Tone Madison writes, “…Barrett’s lead vocals achieve a similar balance of well-crafted, unforced melody and bite.”