(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

CD review - BigBang, Edendale (2010)

Norway's BigBang embraces an American sound. If I didn't know their story, I never would have guessed that they're not American. Their second US release, Edendale, has a mellower down-tempo feel than their last album (From Acid to Zen), but they're not soft. BigBang has created a fusion of left and right coast sounds, covering retro California sounds like the Joe Walsh and the Eagles and then pulling in the East coast vibe of Steely Dan and Patti Smith. They've sifted some bluesy R&B over the top along with a little Roxy Music and made a great groove of an album.

This is a strong and varied collection of songs. Still, there are a couple of songs that rise to the top. The tentative, reflective start of Isabel hints at decisiveness. The driving bass and drums cement the focus. The threatening lyrics and imposing vocals add a perfect element of tension. The rich and emotionally expressive lead guitar at the end contrasts with the structured rhythm.

Now Is Not a Good Time has a similar soft beginning. Here, though, the vibe is a laid back groove that feels like Simply Red's Holding Back the Years. Tasteful keyboard accents back the Robin Trower style guitar work. Eventually, they smoothly shift into a My Morning Jacket progressive section, with repetitious staccato riffs building in intensity as the guitar wails over the top.

Singling these out, it's feels like I'm ignoring plenty of other great songs: the edgy Adrian Belew sound of Call Me, the cool Steely Dan tone of Swedish Television, or the funky Cajun blues of Bag of Leaves. I've listened to Edendale eight or ten times already and it stays fresh. The smooth, laid back tone remind me of a great Pacific Northwest barley wine, like Pike Brewing's Old Bawdy.

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