NYC Legends The Bogmen return with album In My Kingdom

Following a 26 year hiatus, NYC alternative band, The Bogmen have returned with their third album In My Kingdom. The Bogmen will release In My Kingdom on May 31. 

The Bogmen

Singer Billy Campion and brothers Billy and Brendan Ryan formed The Bogmen in 1990, united by a love of alternative, soul, and afrobeat. The group toured clubs, colleges, and venues around the NYC metro, forging a devoted cult following. Their 1994 debut Life Begins at 40 Million produced by Talking Heads keyboardist-guitarist Jerry Harrison, propelled The Bogmen into stardom. Throughout the 90s, they toured with legends like Shane McGowan, The Barenaked Ladies and Patti Smith, selling out national venues across the country. 

Despite their success, the band broke up in 1998, citing frustration with the music industry and creative differences. For the next two decades, the band members’ lives were marked with hardship. Brendan Ryan’s wife died in the 9/11 attacks and other members continued to struggle with addiction and the music business. Despite this hardship, the band continued to sporadically reunite for live shows and EPs before breaking up again. The pandemic ironically brought the group back together, with its members falling back on music to cope with the chaos of lockdown. Following the loss of a close friend, they reunited to write a host of new songs. Those pandemic-era songs make up their new album In My Kingdom

In My Kingdom is an ambitious collection of tracks, blending alternative, pop, and country. The album’s lyrical themes highlight a wiser Bogmen, tempered with age. Themes tackle ideas of looking back at your youth, wanting to connect with nature, and wanting to get out in the world. With this mature instrumentation and lyricism, The Bogmen return at the top of their musical game.

The album begins slowly with the title track “In My Kingdom.” The track eases in with a spoken word intro, building a utopian setting for the rest of the album. Singer Billy Campion invites the saints, prophets, and Gods of various religions into his kingdom, setting the stage for the album’s more introspective mood. The track slowly grows into a smooth rock song propelled by warm synths and clean guitars. The lyrics reflect the band’s return during Covid, discussing hope for the future in a world full of anxiety. With this opener, The Bogmen prove that they still have the groove of their debut, but with more mature lyricism to propel them into this new era of their career. 

The standout of the album is single “Summer of Soul”, a triumphant announcement of the band’s return. Crafted during the height of Covid, and inspired by the isolation and loss of a friend, the track contains heavy lyricism. Campion sings “One thing that I love is being born again, out here on the sea. You need a helping hand, so throw me the rope, I promise not to hang myself.” Despite dark lyrics, the song is overall hopeful for a reemergence into the world, appreciating life’s beauty. A dreamy reverb guitar and piano intro, and lush instrumentation throughout really make this anthem stand out. 

The album’s rich lyricism and genre bending aren’t restricted to its singles. “Life on the Ranch” is a track deeply indebted to the outlaw country of Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash. With a driving acoustic backing, aided by clean electric guitar and horns, the song is a real pleasure to listen to. Its lyrics cleverly parallel someone running from their problemsnwith a Western bandit running from the law. Another great track was “Pandemic Blues.” Despite its name, the track is not blues, but rather a motown-inspired soul tune, driven by catchy horns. The song uses Covid-19 as a metaphor for being alone in love. The narrator wishes he could just walk out the door to find love, but is instead trapped dancing alone in his room. Album tracks like these illustrate the Bogmen’s success in cross-genre experiments and deep lyricism.

The Bogmen close out the album with a re-recording of “Raga” from their debut album. This remake is truly jubilant, crafting a celebratory, vibrant atmosphere around it. Incorporating Latin rhythms, choral vocals, and dancy instrumentation, the song is a really enjoyable sendoff. If anything, this song illustrates the band’s growth more than any other, matching the energy of the original but with more fleshed-out production and instrumentation. Overall, In My Kingdom is a testament to The Bogmen’s musical staying power, retaining the energy of their 90s output, but with clear signs of growth. 

The Bogmen will release their return album In My Kingdom on Friday, May 31st, 2024. To accompany its release, they will perform a release show at Manhattan’s Irving Plaza. The show, set for May 30th at 7:00 PM, will feature The Bogmen accompanied by Indie-Rockers Pan Arcadia. In addition, The Bogmen have released music videos to accompany the album’s three singles, which can be viewed at their youtube page here.

More information on the release of In My Kingdom and future shows can be found at The Bogmen’s website here.

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