Monday, June 03, 2013

Big Eyes rock!

As punky and poppy as ever - but sporting a bigger, fuller sound - Big Eyes have delivered a truly great sophomore LP. The Seattle trio was already knocking on the door of my personal top ten. With Almost Famous, they've busted that door down and taken their rightful place in my super six. They will be receiving their medallions in the mail shortly.

I've been a sucker for bands like Big Eyes my whole life. You know: big guitars, big hooks, a gutsy female singer. But the difference with this particular outfit is the exceptional talent infused into the familiar style. Almost Famous takes everything that was already good about Big Eyes and makes it even better. Kate Eldridge has written her finest and most personal collection of songs to date, and the trio has seamlessly incorporated a '70s arena rock influence into its melodic blend of punk and pop. And while a lot of bands end up losing their "edge" when their records are more carefully crafted and cleanly produced, Big Eyes have never rocked harder. This is the sound of a band fully coming into its own.

Eldridge likes to write songs about "anger, sadness, heartbreak, and dark thoughts" - but Almost Famous is anything but a bummer. One of the things that makes her such a fantastic songwriter is her ability to channel her sufferings and frustrations into relatable, highly enjoyable material. While some may view this as a "darker" Big Eyes album, to me it's simply more powerful and emotional. Eldridge will probably be forever saddled with comparisons to certain iconic women of punk, but she's a unique personality in her own right with a genuinely likable vocal style. And as a guitarist, she has a knack for coming up with simple riffs that you just can't get out of your head. She and her bandmates (drummer Dillan Lazzareschi and bassist Chris Costalupes) have really hit their stride as a confident power trio, and they've delivered an 11-song album that's strong the whole way through. Seriously: there's not anything even close to a weak track on this record.

Almost Famous has its share of "classic" Big Eyes songs ("Being Unkind", "Half The Time") as well as beefed-up versions of the same ("Can't Catch A Break"). And the rock influence is especially palpable on crisp, crunching tracks like "Nothing You Could Say" and "Ain't Nothing But the Truth". Hearing a song like the thunderously hooky "You Ain't The Only One", I get the feeling that the tongue-in-cheek album title is actually quite fitting. Big Eyes make music that anyone could like, and they've turned out a record chock of full of potential hits. I'm giving them temporary possession of the album of the year crown. Some degenerate label mates of theirs may end up taking it from them, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. 


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