Big City Rock does for rock music in 2000 what The Bay City Rollers did for the genre in the 1970s, namely by making it fun, enthusiastic, and inspiring urges to love. After releasing three self-titled EP’s from 2002-2004, the quintet, which originated from Madison, Wisconsin and is now based in Los Angeles, California, return with their first full-length self-titled album, which lives up to the band’s name.
Big City Rock’s producers Brian Malouf (Pearl Jam, Everclear) and Fountain Of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger worked with mixer Chris Lord-Alge (Green Day, Bon Jovi) to saturate the tracks in an arena rock sound that bestowed the rock melodies with gusts of enthusiasm, uplifting momentum, lively sprigs, and soaring sequences. The production work flowers the arrangements with elevating guitar and keyboard tabs, sporadic vocal overdubs, and bass and drum quavers exuding springy dance beats. It’s as if the band is, um, like, totally stoked about playing rock `n’ roll.
The album opens with a procession of energy packed pop/rock romps like “Sink” and “All Of The Above.” The hooks throb with moxie. The vocals move with vigorous strokes and spontaneous impulses. The tones resonate with brightness and zest creating a positive vibe throughout the album. The dynamic movements on “Human” give the rock ballad segments of soaring synthesizer aureoles and rolls of cheery rhythmic mounds supporting towering vocals. There are influences of power pop rouses and nü wave surges in numbers like “As Soon As I Find Out” and “I Believe In You.”
The lyrics also resonate with positive expressions and a New Romantics sediment, last present in the early ’80s Britpop wave, like in the tune “Shelter” which finds vocalist Nate Bott declaring, “I’m hoping for a day everyone can live together/ That day may never come so I will sing a song/ It gives me shelter, shelter from my sorrow/ Shelter from tomorrow.”
Big City Rock intertwines poppy verses with balmy keyboard ruffles, propulsive guitar burns, and thick bass rudders. Many of the songs will spotlight an instrument sequence like the guitar solo in “Shelter,” the keyboard prelude and bass spree on “Kind,” and the unadorned vocals in sections of “Sink.” The drum motions give the tracks a catchy upbeat grind sautéed by spry embellishments, which effuse the tracks with waves of energy. Big City Rock has opened shows for Rooney and Phantom Planet in the past, but their enthusiasm for playing rock music is their biggest asset. The more they do it, the more upbeat their music becomes.
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