Hang Together for All Time
Big Buildings stick to their guns. They ignore the slick, polished sound ubiquitous on modern records, even those of so-called tough rock-is-back bands. We're not just talking about a fashionable embrace of retro tones here, either. One member of Big Buildings once summed up their sound as 'crappy,' and on the whole, their records are a jangly, off-kilter mess. But this sound has an undeniable folk art charm and intimacy. Like other junk peddlers before them (The Clean, Meat Puppets), Big Buildings invite you into their personal space - a place where DIY punks run you through the alley and 4-track troubadours dust off the welcome mat, just for you. Check a couple of the acoustic tracks on Hang Together For All Time: 'Big Dave' and 'Peaceful Man at Odds' are homespun gems that alternately rollick and creak with the old wood of beaten guitars and jigsaw floors. The electrics on 'Comet on the Rise' are big and bright, and the desperate vocals build up a sweat. At the same time, summertime elegies like the longing, Crazy Horse-styled 'Words Can Paint a Picture' and the haunted, chiming 'Skinny Women Shaking' strike a spare weight of can't-lift-a-finger regret. 'Smash the Alarm Clock' and 'Trash Out' neatly frame a day with the Buildings. The lo-fi wake-up squawks on 'Alarm Clock' are all Westerberg bedhead. But on 'Trash Out' the band rummages around to find their Sunday best, both production and performance-wise. In struggling to find reference points, critics have frequently lumped Big Buildings into the alt-country or roots rock movements. As the new record quickly proclaims, the band doesn't sit politely in any one style. Big Buildings songs aren't so much genre pieces as they are the cold sweat you get shot-gunning a beer, or a blast of sunlight upon stumbling out of a dark bar in mid-afternoon. Of course, the band didn't invent this brand of rough-hewn jalopy rock. It's been flickering in and out of pop music for decades. However, nowadays visit the radio dial or even your local record store and you'd think it was snuffed. But all musical movements live on as long as there are great songwriters to carry the torch. True believers, rest easy: with Big Buildings on board, junk's not dead.