Heavy Hanging Fruit
Broken Field Runner
Los Angeles, CA
When singer and guitarist Anthony Bucci uprooted from Upstate New York and moved to Los Angeles in late 2016, his band Broken Field Runner was already an established indie act with two principal releases—the band’s debut, 2015’s Clear a Heaven So This Earth Can Breathe, which glows like a pop-punk effigy, its chords hot and bright; and the band’s follow-up EP, 2017’s Heavy Hanging Fruit, which smolders, its songs swaying with the weight of its tragic narrative.
Though these releases reveal a songwriter unafraid of confronting the dense and difficult, the move to Los Angeles inspired the sort of introspection and emotion that Bucci had never before experienced—and, subsequently, an album’s worth of music. “Los Angeles was quintessential to this record in almost every conceivable way,” he says. “Frankly, I would not have felt so lonely or defeated anywhere else. I would not have been as easily inspired by a mural on a liquor store wall, let's say, or by a body of water, or by the apparent distance between myself and everyone else.”
Christened Lay My Head Down, Broken Field Runner’s second full-length balances the pop-punk altitude of the band’s debut with the emotional depth of its follow-up as it attempts to reconcile these West Coast-inspired complexities. Songs like “Palm Trees Wave,” whose stuttering beat stirs the song until it boils over, and the chiming, churning “Koreatown” perhaps best capture that balance of pop and weight, all as their chords waver like the rose-colored Los Angeles landscape. Meanwhile, “God Laughs (When They Expose A Human Body),” features spoken-word lyrics and a tumultuous soundscape that transform it into something bigger than a mere song; it and others like the simmering “Millennial Pink” brood slow and somber, showcasing the singer-songwriter at the band’s center. Still others, like “Twenty Somethings” and the shuffling “Heat,” one of two tracks sung by bassist Laura Murphy, remind listeners that Broken Field Runner has always honored pop sensibilities, despite its serious subject matter.
“Many of these songs seem like visceral reactions to the isolation of leaving people behind and crashing headlong into different cultures, worldviews, languages, customs, and friend groups,” Bucci says. “I also cover themes like the increasing threat of workplace and community violence and the instant politicization of these types of events by talking heads, the swift and necessary take down of some of my personal heroes for being exposed as the pieces of shit they always were, and the realization that I am likely viewed as the problem in my neighborhood as rents continue to increase, coffee shops and dispensaries continue to open, and traffic continues to swell. Maybe not the most flattering self-discovery, but sometimes that's what you get when you hold a mirror up and try to really see yourself in it.”
In Lay My Head Down, Broken Field Runner has created their most developed and dynamic record yet, one inspired by an honest confrontation of modern life’s complexities. “This record is called Lay My Head Down because with it I consider the various reasons why I decided to lay my head down here,” Bucci concludes. “It's about personal growth and about developing the strength to do what you must at all costs. It also implies that there was something accomplished and hard fought, and perhaps, that there might be a reason to pick yourself back up again. I could see how someone my take it as defeatist, but I prefer to think of the record as a message of hope.”