From swamp to shining swamp, Bruisey Peets (Ben Usie) has steadily evolved with his unique brand of queer swamp pop. Equal parts earnest songwriting and performance art, Bruisey Peets shows are charmingly confrontational and subversively playful. Originally from Lafayette LA, Usie lived in DC for the better part of a decade playing in bands such as Pree and Br’er while also directing music videos for bands such as Br’er, Paperhaus, Pree, and Deleted Scenes. Usie released his first Bruisey Peets records as he exited the Beehive and the greater DC DIY house show scene that he had helped reactivate throughout the 2010’s. Performing solo with a stage full of sequencers and synths, Bruisey seduced intimate crowds with tape-hiss hits like Asshole of Capitalism (2017 Blight. Records) and Ur Not Free (2018 Blight. Records).
Once Bruisey had settled in New Orleans, the elaborate electronic set-up became too much to lug around to neighborhood bars for shows. He began writing and performing solo shows on guitar thanks to the influence of friends Julie Odell and other local songwriters who seemed to embody that wise-from-struggle Mississippi River poet ramble that feels contagious in New Orleans. The solo shows evolved into four-piece rockers once Ethan Brasseaux, Ian Wood, and Adam Keil joined the group, culminating in the release of To Make At Last Love Last (2021 Y’allstar Records), which Usie and Keil produced over a 2 year span.
Towards the end of 2019, as the guitar band grew tired of playing bars at 2am, Usie started playing solo shows with his new batch of piano songs. This is when Lost Bayou Ramblers bassist Bryan Webre offered to collaborate on upright bass. After a few duo shows, it was clear that Webre would anchor these piano songs and the band that would form around them. By December 2019, Bruisey had lost two family members and a dear old friend. He felt an imminent fear of death and knew that he needed to act fast. He called upon his brother Ethan Brasseaux and his Br’er bandmate Erik Sleight, whom he flew down from DC. The band would learn the songs live in Mark Bingham’s Nina Highway Studio in Henderson, LA over three days in January 2020. Three days of overdubs in February included pedal steel by Jonny Campos and fiddle by Louis Michot, both of Lost Bayou Ramblers. As fate would have it, Usie and Mark Bingham finished mixing on March 13, 2020, as Lost Bayou Ramblers were flying home from their cancelled Poguetry in Motion tour with members of The Pogues. Pandemic had hit.
With his new album Poached Eggs, due out November 19th, Bruisey didn’t set out to write a tongue-in-cheek food record or commentary on small-business capitalism. Looking back, the food themes came from Usie finding work in the food industry. Delivering $20 soggy falafel and fries to people in their underwear can demoralize an artist playing late night shows for drink tickets. To add insult to injury, several restaurant owners had tried to convince Usie to run their businesses for them for $12/hr so that the owners could move onto other ventures, which inspired the heart-wrenching songs “Poached Eggs” and “Business with Friends.” The second half of the record became a requiem of loss. His sisters Lauren and Olivia Usie sang so well at their recent family funerals that Bruisey invited them to share in writing and performing songs for their grandfather Roland and their cousin Matthieu. “Bull Testicles” had already come to Bruisey in a flash of inspiration while cooking the innards of a Whole Foods organic chicken. The song recalls Roland cooking bull testicles for young Ben and taking him squirrel hunting illegally behind a local golf course neighborhood. Craziness ensues, as we grasp for seeds of wisdom.
Today Glide is excited to premiere the new album’s title track, which finds Usie colorfully drawing from his experiences in the restaurant industry. Kicking off with a playful, loping piano and synth track that feels carnival-esque, Usie lays down dreamy vocals that bring to mind the slower works of Ween and even My Morning Jacket’s Jim James while also standing out as unique. What makes the song especially intriguing is the addition of fiddle by Louis Michot and pedal steel by Jonny Campos, both of rich add a deeper dimension to the sound and keep it close to its Louisiana roots.
Ben Usie of Bruisey Peets describes the inspiration behind the song:
“Poached Eggs” was written as a poem after a kitchen shift with my brother, Ethan Brasseaux. I was trying to remind him how special he is as we sweat over making gluten-free bread and buckets of kimchi, and maybe I was really speaking to myself. There’s a sad clown sincerity that rings triumphant over the absurdity of this consumerist world.
Look for Poached Eggs everywhere on November 19th
Photo credit: Olivia Perillo