Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Big Wheel Stunt Show – Wonderful Life



I love a band that just gets better and better.  It shows that their hearts are in it.  It shows they care about what they are doing.  And good Lord, this CD should be proof to anyone and everyone that The Big Wheel Stunt Show are in it to win it, as the kids say.

This is a remarkable step up and forward for these guys.  First I have to say that addition of the keys as a permanent part of the band is a genius move.  The keys are so well integrated into these songs that you would think they’ve been a part all along, when in fact they are a very new addition.  The second comment I have is that the production by Kurt Bloch of Fastbacks fame is perfect.  This is a band that is in their element on stage, and previous recordings have not quite captured that.  On “Wonderful Life”, you get a sense of that immediacy that live performance brings you.  I especially love the way all the vocals, lead and backing, are placed in the recording.  They are warm and up front and you can hear the various harmony lines.  Truly great recording and engineering.

“Wonderful Life” is the story of, well, a life.  All of it flows together as a story so the lyrics are definitely worth a listen.  The songs also stand apart and alone as well as individual songs, something not easily done.  Many bands try this idea but do it in such a ham fisted way that even the overall flow of the album does not work.

The playing and songwriting on this album are just superb.  There are many moments when your jaw will hit the floor, thinking “did they just pull off what I think I heard?”  Evan Nagle’s voice is in fine, soulful form, his guitar playing is on fire.  Justin Gimse’s drums are always right where they need to be, adding to each song and not detracting in any way.   Jake Melius on bass is like a love child of Cliff Burton and John Entwistle, if men could have babies.  And Andy Basinger on keys, the new guy, plays all the right stuff in all the right places.

Personal favorites on the album?  How about track 2, “Bad Thing” a straight up raging rocker that gets right to the point.  And then I’ll take “Situations”, a song that is seemingly ever changing in the way it is performed, and this recorded version captures the full essence of the talents and abilities of this band as they stretch it out and jam a little.  And because I’m a sucker for a well written slow song, “To Believe In” just knocks me out.
But the entire album is stellar from start to finish.  Sometimes I listen to an album and I think, “why the hell is THAT on here”, or something like that, and you know what I mean.  There are none of those moments on this release.  Do me a favor, no, do yourself a favor.  If you are a fan of solid rock and roll, great jams that sound like they came from the 70’s, get your hands on this album.  You will thank me.

- ODIN






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