Reinvention is awesome, I just personally suck at it. I am super at stagnation; the King of Comfort Zone. But, I’m trying. I write this column now, which is a bigger step for me than people might realize. I’ve taken Bob Wiley baby steps toward actually having a career instead of just a job, and my overall outlook on professionalism has changed. I’m not absolutely petrified of fatherhood. I’m a little less scared to talk to new people without the use of alcohol. So yeah, reinvention is awesome, but it is also nice to see the road someone has come from and how it brought them to where they are.
Bright Giant could be classified as a reinvention. The band is fronted by Josh Davis, who I’m sure many people know from his alt-country act in the beginning and middle part of the 2000’s, The Josh Davis Band. Davis played shows around the country, often in support of his then label mates The Nadas. While the music was catchy and fun, there always seemed like something was missing during the bands tenure. Like, they wanted to do more, but was maybe held back by the audience they had created. Every once in a while they would throw out a rocking track, usually to enthusiasm, but it always seemed like they would slip back into the comfort zone they new. That is where Bright Giant came in.
Bright Giant is a rock band. There really isn’t any question about that. The riffs are strong and clear. The chords are rock chords with little of the twang. The music is filtered through crackling amps and heavy drumming. But you can’t just say that the alt country of the Josh Davis Band is dead completely. I think that aspect of the band makes this album more interesting than just a rock album. It occasionally borders on country and helps remind the listener, especially someone familiar with the backstory, not just of what the album consists of artistically, but where the bands have grown and changed as artists.
The first track, “Promises & Love,” is a country influenced song in the Deer Tick vein, and the single, “Jake & The Gunslinger,” is very close to being a country troubadour track without the steel guitars; maybe more like an AC/DC story track like “She’s Got The Jack.” (although track six, “Cabin Fever” fits that description much better.) These are good things. Country, as a genre, is perfectly wonderful.
It is interesting that the album is set in the way it is. “Gunslinger” transitions towards the end to a full on rock song with ringing guitars and hard drums. It is almost like you can feel the band change before your eyes or, I guess, ears. With the next track, “Sandbox”, the country is seemingly gone from the band. This is a two and a half minute rock song. The calling cards of rock and roll are all there, the fearsome riff, the heavy drums, the distorted whine in both the vocals and instruments, with very little of the country mixed in. With Davis’s somewhat nasally voice, this track actually sort of reminds me of The Smashing Pumpkins “Zero”, a thunderously heavy rock song that too sneaks up on you if you were just sort of expecting “Tonight, Tonight“ or “1979”
This album is great. There is a lot happening, but this is a very traditional rock album. This fits more into the Lazer 103.3 genre of rock than a lot of the other albums I review, but don’t take that to mean anything. Take it to mean that rock music can be awesome, too.
The album is book-ended with two tracks that kind of sneak the southern rock/country vibe back in, an interesting choice of track placement for sure if you’re looking at the album through the thesis of reinvention. Almost as if to say “you can’t deny where you’ve been or how you got here, but you can change where you are headed.”
Try Not To Miss Shows 12/1 – 12/7
Music Saves- Badower’s Dec. 4 5-7pm
This isn’t a concert exactly, but it is a very big deal. This is a fundraiser and a sort of mingle session for Des Moines Music Coalition. Now, I know there are some people who are unfamiliar with what DMMC does, but just know that they are responsible for 80/35, and above everything else that they do (which is a lot) Des Moines needs 80/35 maybe more than they need any other event in the city (yes, even Baconfest). As a city, we need the opportunity to experience homegrown music, and we need the opportunity to experience new and experimental sounds. Even if you don’t like what you hear, just having an event that brings so much eclectic stuff on one weekend, is gigantic. Think of it this way, you probably know someone who doesn’t read, or visit art museums or go to plays. They may not watch movies or even television, but I dare say everyone listens to music of some kind. We need to continue to have such an event to give people the chance to hear what is available from all artists, not just the ones that are readily available. All I want is for people to give different music a chance, and an event like 80/35 gives people that chance. So, please go, support, and become a member.
Call and Response: Musical Conversations with Patrick Tape Fleming with guest Chris Ford of Christopher the Conquered (and about eight other bands it seems) – Des Moines Social Club Dec 2 8pm
This is a very cool concept that I (full disclosure here because I have journalistic (ha) integrity) kind of helped put together. Patrick Tape Fleming of the Poison Control Center has a monthly talk show where he interviews a colleague about their influences, and together they play songs. Plus, Christopher the Conquered are playing a full set afterwards, even debuting new tracks. So very cool.
Dream Thieves with Datagun and Love Songs For Lonely Monsters – Vaudeville Mews Dec. 1 9pm
Electro-rock. Synths and guitars and a male and female vocalist. Plus, they put on an entertaining stage show. This is right up my alley.
Love of Everything w/ Black Ambient Manifesto, Canyons, Dresden Style and Dustin Harmsen – Vaudeville Mews Dec 2. 8pm
This is a very loaded show. Lots of cool acts all on one bill. I caught Dresden Style last weekend opening for Lollipop Factory (incidentally, where were all of you? It was just like me and Tito McGee) and I enjoyed them quite a bit.
Diamonds For Eyes – Vaudeville Mews Dec. 3 9pm
A band I reviewed earlier this year. I heard they’re taking some time off soon, so this might be one of the last chances to catch them in the near future.
- Rebel Creek Defies Age and Convention & Little Big Fest (desmoinesisnotboring.com)
- Discovering Dick Prall (desmoinesisnotboring.com)