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(Older reviews archived alphabetically by artist name.)

  New Everything  
  Big Lazy  
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As I've stated before, Big Lazy are a band that is phenomenal live. Based out of New York City, this trio combines drum, bass, and reverbed guitar to create instrumental mood poems that are both beautiful and evocative, as well as slightly primitive in their feel. On their previous self-titled album, the band really showcased this "lost in the desert with only my beat up instruments for company" motif. In contrast, this new recording, titled appropriately New Everything, is more organically expansive in its mood -- some parts of the album are very ambient, some parts showcase minor keyed reverbed melodies, some parts seem more jazz oriented. Across the board, despite the variations between songs, everything is not only expertly performed but also excellently and clearly recorded, so I can appreciate all of the nuances of the music itself.

Some of the best songs on New everything are ones in which the band completely moves beyond its previous boundaries. For instance, Train Travel (the first track on the album) begins with the slow interaction between the guitar of Stephen Ulrich and bowed bass of Paul Dugan, before the intricate drums and a horn section kick in. In and of itself, this would be exactly what I'd expect from Big Lazy; however, about halfway through, the song suddenly builds into a swell reminiscent of the soaring chorus of Fairytale of New York before sliding back into the previous construction. That moment alone is enough of a change to grab your attention and force you to marvel at the versatility of the performers (as well as their ability to construct beautiful melodies).

Likewise, the beginning of The Hill sounds like it could easily be on the soundtrack for a spaghetti western. The drumming of Tamir Muskay -- which is vaguely martial, yet still intricate -- fills the song and provides a focal point. However the feminine vocals and horn section build on this base in a manner which suggests a happier and more mature Godspeed You Black Emperor! (if GYBE were riding on a subway). Finally, Big Lazy's cover of Charles Mingus's Meditation (For a Pair of Wire Cutters) further indicates the breadth of this band's skill and knowledge. Most pseudo-rock bands (even those with a jazz influence) would not even try to cover such a classic. Big Lazy manages to not only pull it off, but also to make the song their own.

Still, even on songs like Gone, which would sound right at home on their previous release, there are enough flourishes and touches to engage the listener. Whether it's the hum of human conversation, or the way the drums slide from one speaker to another, or the ring of a cowbell, each subsequent listen of New Everything offers up a new element I hadn't heard before.

All in all, this is an excellent album, one which I find immensely enjoyable (even though I don't normally particularly care for solely instrumental music). I now look forward to hearing their next production, and more importantly, I can't wait to see them in concert again.

Related Links:
  A review of Big Lazy's self-titled debut album.  

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