As of late, I’ve noticed two trends in music: Huge albums and crowdfunding. For instance, Protest the Hero raised almost triple their goal of $125,000 on Indiegogo back in January. Not only that, but they reached that goal in about 30 hours, and continued to raise money for 29 more days. Another notable example would be Amanda Palmer’s Theatre is Evil, which was funded by a Kickstarter campaign that raised almost $1.2 million. Not to mention that the album clocks in at a lengthy 71 minutes. But I’m not here to talk about either of those artists today.
Big D and the Kids Table came together in the mid-nineties when the members of the band were attending Berklee College of Music. Since then, and through numerous lineup (At one point in their career, they were a 10-piece band) and record label changes, the band has toured relentlessly and built one of the most varied musical catalogs I’ve heard. While largely a ska punk band, they have never been shy to incorporate reggae, dub, pop, metal and folk influences. In 2003 they released the gangsta rap album Porch Life, and 2009’s Fluent in Stroll expanded their sonic palette immensely with heavier dub, surf and bouncy rock and roll reminiscent of the 1950’s. Oh, and did I mention they added a section of back-up singers? They’re called the Doped Up Dollies. It’s great album and you should listen to it. Such a diverse range of influences and styles has led them to self-release not one, but two albums: Stomp and Stroll. Back in February, the Kickstarter campaign that funded this huge project raised $38,000, almost doubling their goal of $20,000.
Preamble aside, let’s get to the music. We’ll start with Stomp. It opens with a bang, with frontman David McWane yelling “GET BACK HERE YOU LITTLE PUNKS! ALL THIS SHIT IS GONNA START SOON!” and “Stepping Out” kicks you in the chest with an infectiously toe-tapping verse. A nice goofy prechorus of “Stop pushing! Stop pushing!” reminds me of just about every crowd I’ve been in. What I like about Big D’s horn section is that they don’t hog the spotlight, instead complimenting the music nicely and filling in the gaps, acting like sprinkles on a delicious ska sundae. Although for some reason I was expecting something faster, Stomp doesn’t disappoint one bit. And even though it’s the faster, more raucous of the two albums, Big D isn’t afraid to slow it down a little bit on “Pinball,” with its pleasantly sincere chorus, washed-out reverb, and dubby flairs.
In a nutshell, Stomp sounds like several crazy parties rolled into one, complete with nighttime driving, rowdy goofs destroying everything in sight, that annoying drunk girl who keeps trying to get with you, and the quiet dude in the background who shows up with a myriad of mind-altering substances. As the album progresses, the dub influence gets stronger and stronger, but it’s strongest on “Don’t Compare Me to You,” which, with its spacey oh’s, embellishing horns and reverb swells galore, is one of my favourites on the album. Another one of my favourites, “Pitch ‘n’ Sway” is a rollercoaster of a tune, starting off with a furious dose of the fastest punk rock on the album, then swaying, twisting and turning its way through numerous tempos and moods, before abruptly deciding that it wants to be a speedy punk tune again. It threw me for a delightful loop. The closer, “No Moaning at the Bar,” feels like the sad sack friend with his head on the bar, before the party hops in its ride home and arrives with a wonderfully mellow outro. It’s a delightful way to the end the album, and leaves me eager to dive into Stroll, the subject of next week’s post.
To be continued…