Thursday, September 15, 2011

Album Review: The Wigg Report - Bicycle Pop

Bicycle Pop

Bicycle Pop is the latest from Durham lo-fi garagers The Wigg Report and its beautifully intriguing title appears to parallel two things in life that the Wiggs love the shit out of. Sorry, grammar check, which sounds right; "of which they love the shit out" or, "of which the shit out they love" ..bleh...they love the shit out of some pop music and BICYCLES, which they pack upon and and carry everything...to include their instruments to and from gigs. Yes, bicycles are directly referenced on this album. Their is a song on this album which boldly notates in title and lyric that "bicycle" is their religion, so you know what they'll be doing Sunday... *blink* ...blank stare...moving on... Pop music is also referenced here, but with far more nuance. The Wigg Report is constructed of four instruments; an acoustic guitar jacked to a over driven tube amp, a stand-up half cocktail smattery drum kit, a small frame keyboard processing some synths, and a sax...this is the chemistry set for some home cooked garage folk punk, not what we would entertain as pop music. The references dig much deeper than what pop music appears to be on any recognizable surface. These tracks climb backwards into the retroness of the eighties, the alt sarcasms of the nineties, and the purposefully dense DIY of socially accepted punk rock from any by-gone era. The album practices song structures that build and fall from bouncy fun acoustic openers to fragile stripped middles, and on to thunderous blood rushing outtros. Hooks are not forgotten as the second track "Vibrant" gives a memorable chorus backed by the sax at just the right moment. And all of this leaning in the direction of pop is accentuated by a very successful harmony mash up of the gravely Stephen Mullaney and the soft Christine Fantini whom go together like whiskey and water.

"In Between" is a notable track in that you can feel Mullaney's desire to just bang on those strings. This was probably a fun song to make. It leads to a driving chorus and oh...their they go with that horn again, brilliant. In Between is your classic fun poppy light song but beware, there is a torrential downpour of emotion within the lyrics. You may or may not notice with all that pop happening though. "Random Lunacy" cracks me up. Its broken and agitated...they got their weird on (on their weird they got? jeebus I'm turning into Yoda) ...just when you think this song is weird...that's when a chorus of telephones start ringing...which given the context of the song is kinda brilliant, so you are busted Wigg Report...its not random lunacy after all. This much fun woudn't be fair unless their was a ying to the yang, and that comes in the form of a emotionally fueled "R.I.P." (we miss Jay Reatard). All of their faculties are in play on this song, it feels as though it was the product of an overwhelming late night spree of passion and remorse where making every instrument in the room make every noise it could make was just exactly the masking effect that they needed (to make.) It is believable.

The album weighs in at 12 songs the good amount of them being two and three minuters. Given its propensity to be light, easily digestible, and a fun time I think we can call this album good driving music...ahem, or shall we say "pedaling" music. bwa...ha..ha..ha. ba-dat-chhhh. --Carrboro Ninja

Bicycle Pop can be purchased as a digital download at the band's Bandcamp page here: The Wigg Report on Bandcamp

The Wigg report's next show will be on the garage stage at Motorco in Durham, NC at 5:00 PM EST Saturday 9/24/2011 as part of the venue's one-year birthday party celebration which promises music, food trucks, a scrap exchange, and surprises. Click here for the facebook event page: Motorco Birthday Party

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Show Review: The Last Tallboy

The Last Tallboy
Kings Barcade, Raleigh
September 1, 2011

The sort of grandiose climb that would crest the epic, if not for the opposing weight of down-tuned vocals and gazey chord grinds...that is The Last Tallboy. As they stretch out a song, the questions are posed "is this remember-the-good-times grunge revivalist? Or is it entirely avant-garde score-cause-you-heard-it-first new wave?" By the time fuzzy memories of the '90's grunge core and fuzzy understandings of current rock boundaries begin to fire an answer from synapse to synapse it doesn't matter any more; the hooks have hooked and "where are these guys playing next" and "where are they from" are already queued.

I have no answer for the first...no idea where they are playing next. These guys are so underground you won't find them unless you've wired the receiving end of a Tesla machine to one of their amps. They are the fifth band on a four band bill. They played the house party that you heard about a day after it happened. But the second is easy, The Last Tallboy is a Raleigh townie band. A band's band, formed by the guys who are either at your show watching from the audience...or at your show serving from behind the bar. If you've been to more than a couple shows in Raleigh, the smart odds are that one of them scribbled the smiley face on your hand with a sharpie when you paid five bucks at the door. So now we're putting them on stage and who saw it coming...they are fucking great. Front man, Bart Tomlin, is a crooner. Intimate, breathy, bel canto...he can tell an entire story within a singular scale of rich baritone notes, and then pull a tear as it tapers to a fragile and broken ending. It's a vocal formula of strong yet vulnerable character and when mixed with the band's mesmerizing balance of confidence and faults, unassuming irresistibility is the product. --Carrboro Ninja

The Last Tallboy
The Last Tallboy
The Last Tallboy
The Last Tallboy
The Last Tallboy

a Sasquatch sighting
The Last Tallboy
Jake Bredenberg smiles for the camera just in front of the King's Barcade smoking lounge after The Last Tallboy's set.