During this strange and often scary time, it seems like everyone is looking for an escape, be it in movies, books, or very often music. I found such an escape this week in a band called The Q-Tip Bandits, a soul indie group from Boston MA who released their debut EP, Ain’t It Great last week. With evident influences of Alabama Shakes, Hippo Campus, and Lawrence, this grooving band is a sure-fire mood booster that will have your head bopping and heart smiling. From the first moments of the title track “Ain’t It Great,” you know you are in for an absolute treat.
“Ain’t It Great” is a piece that begins with an easy-going guitar riff, soft percussion, and a soulful bit of horns that float peacefully in the air. What follows is a carefree look back at a simpler time, a picturesque “silver haze” of “eleventh grade” in which the lead singer, using lyrics that flow right into each other, gives us the feeling of a sunny afternoon where there’s no real plans and the sky’s the limit. The verse is followed by a short instrumental part with a rhythm that calls back to similar chain-of-thought songs such as “Late in the Evening” or “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon. As we enter the chorus, the beat breaks out into a strut-like tone. Next to another gorgeous flow of lyrics comes a simple yet profound statement, “So get me out” that truly speaks to me as I sit on my bed in quarantine. It can be viewed that this lyric is not only talking about getting out of a physical space, but a mental one as well. Perhaps it suggests a longing to “get out” to that mindset of being in 11th grade. After another blissful verse and chorus, the song ends in a jubilant instrumental breakdown with cheerful whooping from the band members. Even if junior year was not your year, this song takes you to a sunny afternoon where all is right with the world, and you are young, and you are free, and you are listening to fantastic music.
In the next song, “What’s Your Drug,” we enter a more mellow state of mind as the drums and guitar open with a smooth instrumental intro that sounds like you have just walked into a cozy bar on the right side of town. The lyrics start, as each verse of this song does, with a list of questions for the listener: “Is it the fruit in the finest wine/making a deal with father time?/
Is it tragic? is it passion? is it love?”, all of which are asked in an intoxicatingly groovy melody. In the chorus we’re asked, as the title indicates “What’s your drug?/ What’s that thing you just can’t get enough of?.” Through the rest of this slow jam, we are posed with poetic questions of what our drug could be. As it continues, the question of “is it love?” becomes more prominent, building up to the end of the bridge when we are asked this question repeatedly. The bridge leading up to this point helps to paint a picture of parts of love that make it so addicting. In the outro, all of the brass and drums are put away for a quiet moment of reflection, and we find that the singer was really asking himself these questions and has found the answer. You, of course, are going to have to listen to find out. This is one of those songs that is absolute stank face fuel; with its wonderful funky rhythm and sweet message of love, this track is sure to make you feel like you are walking down Easy Street.
If you consider yourself a sweet romantic type, then the last song on the EP, “The Wolf,” was written for you. At the start there is another lovely instrumental opening that brings us into a lazy, laid back beat. The lyrics start with a beautiful scenario in which if the singer were “the wolf and you’re the moon/ I’d tilt my head and sing to you.” This theoretical scenario is manipulated and repeated throughout the song to create a beautiful moonlit mood. Before we hear the second verse, there is a bridge with gorgeous imagery of moonlight falling on violet eyes that just might be a call back to the previous song. In “What’s Your Drug,” we are asked “is it the man behind the moon,/ or the lady in its light?,” so this lady in the moonlight could very well be the one described in “The Wolf.” After the second verse, the chorus comes with a sweet howling accompanied by gorgeous brass harmonies. The first verse is repeated, and then another two time run of the howling chorus streams through, this time with an added harmony from another singer that is like a sheet of silk over the melody. As I listened to this song, I could imagine an intimate picnic out in the woods, the serene moon glistening down as we dined on homemade sub sandwiches. It is the perfect closer for the EP.
If you were to ask me what I think of Ain’t It Great overall, with all of its positivity and soul, for lack of better terms, I would tell you it is great!