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The Review

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“Bad Bad Hats” is very, very good

The duo’s singer, Kerry Alexander, talks her new self-titled album and the beauty of sandwiches.
Chris+Hoge+%28guitar+and+bass%29+and+Kerry+Alexander+%28guitar+and+vocals%29+have+been+playing+together+since+college.+Together%2C+they+form+the+Bad+Bad+Hats.+Courtesy+Zoe+Prinds.
Chris Hoge (guitar and bass) and Kerry Alexander (guitar and vocals) have been playing together since college. Together, they form the Bad Bad Hats. Courtesy Zoe Prinds.

Bad Bad Hats is, like the band’s members, equal parts silly and affecting. The self-titled album, also called “The Flower Album,” is the first release the band has self-produced since their first EP. Inspired by the feeling of stuck-ness in the pandemic, Bad Bad Hats features twelve tracks of pep-pop excellence, punctuated with a few more melancholy pieces. “Every Bad Bad Hats album gets one ballad,” said Kerry Alexander, the band’s singer. 

Bandmate Chris Hoge is her other half in more ways than one. The two met during their time at Macalester University in Minneapolis and started dating at the end of their sophomore year in 2009. They stayed together through two alternating semesters abroad, sending each other mixed CDs to keep in touch. Alexander recalls the first CD Hoge gave her. It reminds her of an amazing summer spent in Cape Cod—the song that sticks out to her is “Meet Me in the Garden” by Dent May.

“Whenever I hear that song, I just can feel the summer air, smell the beach,” Alexander said in a video interview with the Review. “I’m right in my car, driving around and missing Chris, but also so excited for the future of what being together was gonna bring to my life.”

The Flower Album was released on April 12 and is available wherever you listen to music. (Courtesy Fair Use)

The Flower Album is meant to be a celebration of that brave spontaneity. Its cohesion is due in part to the creative atmosphere created by the band during writing and recording. Ideas came naturally, almost as if they were “bubbling up to the surface” with the encouragement of good friends and good food—Alexander ensured that, once a week, the band was subject to “Tuna Salad Tuesdays.” She remarks she was hesitant to include the anecdote in the official press release for Bad Bad Hats because tuna is polarizing. I feel like some people have harsh opinions about tuna,” she said. “They really don’t like tuna melting the cheese and the whole fish thing.” (I am one of these people.) But something we have in common, in addition to our commitment to sandwichcraft, is a love for mayo.

If there’s gonna be mayonnaise in it, I’m probably gonna like it,” Alexander said. “If you’ve got good bread, some mayonnaise, a little cheese, little meat… it’s gonna be good.”

Alexander started high school at an arts school in Alabama before transferring to a prep school in Tampa her sophomore year. The culture was a shock—no longer was Alexander surrounded by fellow weirdos—and the unexpected dress code had her wearing her dad’s collared shirts. “I didn’t really know how to dress myself,” Alexander laughed.

At Macalester, Alexander expanded on a lifelong obsession with music. Every birthday and Christmas brought almost exclusively new CDs, and she relished being able to “level up” to a bigger binder to hold all of her discs. Her friends would gather in a dorm room and swap thousands of songs in the form of high-storage data discs, expanding each other’s musical horizons. Highlights included newly-popular MGMT songs and her friend Patricia’s collection of the entire Sufjan Stevens discography. A spontaneous Caroline Smith performance on campus was the catalyst for the formation of the band, which was cemented by the transfer of new student Noah Boswell (who conveniently played the bass). And so, with a name pulled from a Madeline cartoon, the Bad Bad Hats were born. 

A return to self-production has meant more experimental strategies and sounds. “Bored in the Summer,” Alexander’s favorite song on the album, is what she calls a “classic Bad Bad Hats song,” but with a new twist. “TPA,” the album’s Blondie-inspired lead single, utilizes dueling guitar lines to create an atmosphere based on the refrain “ooh, I’m on fire,” which was the first part of the song the Hats wrote. The synth chords on “Happy,” the Flower Album’s closer, were created by turning the volume up and down on a synth loop recorded on a Tascam recorder; the result is a freewheeling psychedelic wheeze. The album could very well soundtrack a top-down, summer fun buddy movie or rom-com worth experiencing in the theater—Bad Bad Hats sounds best loud.

The Bad Bad Hats will hit the East and West Coasts soon, but do not have any plans to tour in Houston as of yet. There’s always hope!

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About the Contributor
Lucy Walker
Lucy Walker, Assistant Online Editor-in-Chief
Lucy Walker ('25) joined The Review in 2021 as a freshman. She likes Big Salads and her second favorite animal is a shark.

Comments (4)

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  • M

    MackenzieApr 19, 2024 at 8:47 AM

    This is awesome

    Reply
  • A

    aleenaApr 18, 2024 at 10:21 PM

    i love the bad bad hats and i love lucy walker

    Reply
  • A

    Annie JonesApr 18, 2024 at 3:32 PM

    Good! I love music

    Reply
  • A

    AllyApr 18, 2024 at 2:30 PM

    YAAAAAY!

    Reply