Moldy Oldies: Huggabroomstik’s “Nothing Came Out”
One of the wonders of life in New York City is that the intimacy of each individual relationship can become enhanced by the contrasting vastness of our 300-square-mile metropolis and its staggering 8.4 million residents. As if we needed a reminder, the pricelessness of human contact is more apparent now than it has been in quite some time.
The undeniable need for intimacy is a central theme of Antifolk duo Huggabroomstik’s cover of “Nothing Came Out”, originally written and performed by The Moldy Peaches. Recorded in the early 2000s, this song appeared on Huggabroomstik’s 2016 compilation album “21st Century Masters: The Huggabroomstik Collection, Volume 2”, and is now included in the 25-track tribute album “Ain’t I Folk? Weemayk Music Covers Antifolk Classics”, which was released on streaming services this Wednesday. Compiled by former leader of Elastic No-No Band Justin Remer, the album is, per its title, a collection of beloved Antifolk tunes covered by various Antifolk artists.
Huggabroomstik, founded in Harlem in 2001 by Neil Kelly and Dashan Coram, put out 6 albums and collaborated with many artists throughout the years (including Toby Goodshank, who once played acoustic guitar for none other than The Moldy Peaches) before disbanding in 2012 after Coram’s passing.
In Huggabroomstik’s “Nothing Came Out”, the dispirited delivery, buzzy guitars, and intentionally misaligned overdubbed vocals – which are also present in much of the band’s self-titled 2002 debut album – amplify and enrich the powerful sense of dejection that already permeated the overall musical and lyrical sentiment of The Moldy Peaches’ original. When Coram sings “I tried to ask you to your face / but no words came out”, we can’t help but imagine the scene playing out. And to those of us whose daily priorities include staving off thoughts of isolation, the chorus of “All I wanna do is ride bikes with you / And stay up late and watch cartoons” hits differently.
Kelly generously shared with Big City Folks the details of how Huggabroomstik came to cover “Nothing Came Out”:
“Dashan and I recorded Nothing Came Out back in 2002 or 2003. I don’t think we had any particular intentions. At the time we were recording in Dashan’s basement and we would just record everything. Songs we wrote, songs we made up on the spot, and covers. If it came out sounding okay, Dashan would save the recording. If not he’d record over it. I think that day we also recorded a Daniel Johnston cover and maybe a Lee Hazelwood cover. We were just playing whatever we were into and we were definitely Stans for The Moldy Peaches at that time. I’m sure Dashan made a point of giving a CDR with the song to Kimya [Dawson] or Adam [Green]. It may have ended up on a limited run CDR we sold at a couple shows, but it was not widely released until I turned over a ton of old stuff to Justin Remer at Weemayk Music after Dashan passed away. Justin has been a really great custodian of the Huggabroomstik catalog.”
– Neil Kelly, 2/17/21
“Nothing Came Out”, as well as the rest of the “Ain’t I Folk?” album, are available on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Soundcloud.
Ben Bar is a hobbyist singer-songwriter and writer, and a professional project manager, political campaign financial compliance officer, and personal trainer. Ben was raised in Manhattan, and currently resides in Brooklyn.