Album Review: The Big Easy – ‘A Long Year’
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The Big Easy are the house band playing weekly in the dive bar of my dreams, their debut LP, the aptly-titled A Long Year (out on Forged Artifacts) the collection of original songs sprinkled through a well-worn set of Replacements, Superchunk, Thin Lizzy, and Ted Leo covers. And no, this isn’t a party record. Well, I guess it’s dependent on the party you’re going to, the scene you’re hanging in.
For those familiar with the gutter-ridden cast of characters that makes up the Unified Scene-iverse (re: Lifter Puller, the Hold Steady, Craig Finn’s solo material), you’re well-acquainted with this party. It’s littered with sticky floors, glitter and confetti, popped balloons. Booze on your shoes and on the floor and on your shirt. The triumphant intro of album opener “It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Hurt” really sets you up for a turn. It’s the walk-on music. The first song on the jukebox you hear as you step into the bar, dueling guitar leads pumping through your brain, only to see an ex there with someone else. The Big Easy find their groove in personal anthems of heartbreak and the “FUCK, WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?” shouted at the bartenders and regulars of these dusty locales that only really come to life after 11pm.
On A Long Year, the struggle to make it through each situation is presented so physically you can’t help but let the dirty, over-torqued guitars wash over you and just…deal with it. But, you deal with it by dancing. On “Fake it Till I Make It” and “Alone,” our downtrodden protagonist wails through his step by step thought process for dealing with personal trauma, backed by raucous, swampy, stomped rhythms, and guitars flung all over the place with reckless abandon.
Berthomieux and Co. take us through their cathartic mishaps and beat down worries with care – each song feels like a logical next step to an ultimate “fuck it, what can you do” conclusion. The closer trio of “New Year’s Day,” “Something To Do,” and “Rodeo” present themselves as the long walk home from the party the next morning – the band slows down, the guitars a little more mellow, the yelling and wailing turned down to a raspy croon. Why? Because it’s the morning, your head and ears hurt. The day is new, it’s gonna be fine…eventually. Just listen to the chorus rising over the last minute of “Rodeo.” That’s a musical goddamn sunrise if I ever heard one.
Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal
Adam Parshall // @parshally_there
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