SONIC LANDSCAPES FROM THE HEARTLAND

This album is for any music fan that craves young projects. For those people that write off this band as the work of a novice outfit, who are without a doubt elitists in the community with only the intention of being seen at a show, these cats might not be your thing just yet. They are young and growth is what is constantly coming to my mind when spinning their recently released disc. This recording is under-produced and it works. It is my opinion that Big Metal Rooster is trying to get their live feel across in the studio. There is a very good probability that they will be making it to a Midwestern town near you in the future and the recording most likely gives a good representation of what you should expect live. About that last comment I can't be sure, considering the fact that I have yet to see them perform on stage.

However, this is alternative music at its core. BMR might also be considered improvisational rock, jam band, progressive, etc. These are all labels that are easily crushed with the help of your own ears. The band has the equation down to a science, and it is always refreshing to get the younger material as it is coming out. This is everything that a live band should try to get across in their early studio efforts: strong instrumental phrases, inventive lyrics, a genuine focus on vocal harmonies, clean guitar work, solid bass lines, and a real sense of communication between the players. I would also like to add that this group has one of the more talented drummer/singer combinations in the genre today. The duality of a drummer who can also belt out vocals always gets me in the good spot.

This CD is one big stream of musical consciousness. The communication is truly there. If the intention of this recording is to get their live message across then the attempt has been consummated. Sure, this is a series of songs that will probably see very little radio play outside of the college market, but that is exactly what makes these kinds of projects gems. A large part of the allure with Big Metal Rooster is that you won't have this material shoved down your throat. You need to go on an exploration to find this type of stuff. The word gets around, a musician makes contact with another musician or hard-core fan of this kind of music, and the next thing you know the band is coming to your town. It is the quest in its purest form. It is what all artists should strive for in their various designs. I estimate that this band can create a national draw with a minimal machine behind them. I hope to see this group grow to that level. However, Big Metal Rooster is not for the average fan of this genre. This recording is something that the experienced ear will have to put into perspective. I submit that the future looks bright for these guys, yet this disc should be approached with the frame of reference that over-production can often kill a band that thrives in the live medium. BMR shines in this respect. This is the perfect recording to put into the hands of a live venue owner due to the fact that it sounds like you are listening to an actual show. There aren't any bells or whistles minus the interesting intro to this studio project. I feel like I am at a club listening to a band when this is spinning. I can only assume that this was their intent in regards to the lack of production.

Impressive cuts include an epic twenty minute "Trapeze," penned by guitarist Tom Fleming, a song that is gaining more and more play in my stereo, and "Stella," which was written by and features drummer Matt Miner on vocals. Both of these tracks display fertile attempts at songwriting and musicianship. "The Adventures of Herman the Frog" clocks in at 13:01 and draws upon the childhood of Matt Miner and his relationship with his father with the help of Fleming in the compositional department, while "Sweet Surroundings" displays the highly absorbing writing abilities of Fleming and bassist Derek Hein. The entire scheme of this effort is accented by the talents of acoustic guitarist Luke Henry.

Extremely accessible--which is hard to say in this growing genre--Big Metal Rooster has everything that it takes to be a regional and (ultimately) national draw. Not unlike some of the more prominent bands in this community, BMR provides a studio interpretation of what they hope to bring to the stage every night. They goof, artfully carouse, and successfully display stirring realism and technical ability throughout these six songs. Total playing time is 73:23 and you really can't ask for a better price tag on such a newly fledged project. The future looks luminous for these four guys. I personally cannot wait to welcome them to Chicago.

Robert Champion
JamBase | Chicago
Go See Live Music!

http://www.bigmetalrooster.com

[Published on: 1/28/04]

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