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Bigelf: Cheat the Gallows

Album Reviews:

CMJ - "'Hydra' is overflowing with strings of guitar lines that Slash himself would nod approval to."

Album Notes

Bigelf are sort of the white version of Lenny Kravitz. They're astoundingly accurate rock revivalists in terms of songwriting, instrumentation, and recording techniques. They also cobble together styles that in their heyday would never have co-existed: Hendrix-ish blues, Beatlesque pop, Floydian psychedelia. Unlike Kravitz, however, Bigelf are much more sonically daring. They specialize in blowing up basic germs of ideas into Technicolor fantasies light years away from their origins. "Superstar," for example, begins with terse, standard-issue AC/DC chords, then flowers into bright pop changes and lush vocal harmonies. Finally, it ratchets up into a raucous fanfare that would make Aerosmith jealous. A demented circus atmosphere pervades throughout. Saucy horns and stabbing organ in "Blackball" evoke kindred cabaret rock spirits Stolen Babies. "The Evils of Rock & Roll" is another organ-soaked boogie, but upshifts near its end in pure Black Sabbath fashion. "Hydra" starts out as '70s dinosaur rock, then takes off into outer space with retro sci-fi analog synths. While the songwriting is impeccable and the production jaw-dropping, it's all almost too perfect. Instead of the raw exploration of the eras Bigelf fetishize, their undertaking is completely calculated. Put another way, this record is all head and some heart, while its inspirations were the other way around. ~ Cosmo Lee


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