Brooklyn-based composer, producer, and drummer/guitarist Sickpay, aka Mike Birnbaum, recently released a brand-new EP, Pureocracy, via Alien Body Music.
Sickpay explains, “‘Pureocracy’ was born in the darkest days of the pandemic but is filled with ecstatic anthems for our era. Recorded in a small Brooklyn studio, these five songs feature big choruses, to-the-point tunes about living through existential oppression. Enjoy the freedom and release that comes from yell singing out of the holler.”
Sickpay’s sound blends high-octane rock, punk, grunge, and pop in hard-hitting music topped by belligerent vocals, beguiling melodies, galvanizing rhythms, and slashing guitars.
Talking about his punk-flavored sound, Sickpay says, “It has been a gradual descent into making my own punk music. I have been in rock bands since high school and for some reason, my band history has gotten punkier with time. I was in an over-the-top basement swamp punk band called 2 Ton Bug in 2010-11. Eventually getting attention from that, I was asked to play drums with Juiceboxxx from 2012 until recently which was as punk an experience as there is. This eventually led me to play with Wavves for a few shows. At the same time, my girlfriend was selling merch for Leftover Crack and other notorious NY bands. So, it’s tough to tell whether I was drawn to it or it just came for me. But I’ve been part of punk adjacent communities for a long time and it’s just what seemed to naturally happen when picking up a guitar.”
Under the name D. Gookin, he has written seven albums of electro-pop and reggae, including hit songs like “Glad I Met You,” “Remember,” and “Croak.”
Appearing on the EP are Mike Birnbaum (percussion, guitar, vocals), Jordan Welner (vocals on “Devoid”), and Erin Huges (backing vocals).
Embracing five tracks, Pureocracy begins with “Quiet As A Joke,” opening on potent guitars exuding dark grungy savors. Sickpay’s edgy vocals imbue the lyrics with troubled timbres. Visceral and edgy, “Quiet As A Joke” surges with growling, caustic energy.
Highlights include “Devoid,” rolling out on a measured rhythm topped by floods of cutting, raspy guitars. Vaguely reminiscent of Eddie Vedder, Jordan Welner’s vocals imbue the lyrics with searing tones. Whereas “Generosity” merges thick waves of shoegaze elements with dirty, howling punk dynamics.
The last track, “Sickpay,” features hints of reggae-rock with barking flavors of raw punk rock. Grating vocals give the song uncooked textures as gang-like harmonies elevate the lyrics to scorching levels.
Simultaneously muscular and enflamed by grimy, grainy guitars, Pureocracy pumps out brutal textures of punk-laced rock.