“Dolph Chaney’s acoustic guitar-driven “Christmas” looks for light in the shadows of a season that runs the full spectrum of emotions…“the pitter-patter of little defeats”…after repeatedly asking “Can it be Christmas” as scenes of past and present float by, the answer arrives…“Well, it is, said a voice, with nobody attached…” The doubt and disillusionment melt away as the true meaning of the season reveals itself. It’s a beautifully honest and emotional track that takes a non-traditional route to the heart of it all.”
- Mike DeAngelis
“Big Stir Singles - The Fourth Wave (Big Stir Records)
10 December 2019
by Kevin Burke
The Los Angeles based Big Stir Records have pulled out all the stops and given music fans something which in every way typifies their mission statement as a company. Not a cash-grab molecule within their latest compilation release which captivates the seasonal spirit. For the past number of Fridays, Big Stir have run a campaign to highlight some of the best music available via their Big Stir Digital Singles project, now they have put those singles together in the Big Stir Records: The Fourth Wave collection. This is essential for a number of reasons-firstly, the twenty-five tracks are an eclectic mix which I’ll get to shortly. Secondly $5 dollars from every compact disc and download purchase goes to the Ed Asner Family Center (link below) who work tirelessly providing help to children, adults and families struggling with issues around mental health and cognitive disability. Thirdly, it is a display of kindness in an industry which at times seems devoid of any compassion towards artists or society in general. This is remarkable, well worth checking out, and one of those rare occasions when everyone benefits.
Now, for the music, this is not a stocking filler, this is simply all killer. Personally it is like a memorable dive into some of my favourite power-pop tracks of the last few months. Kicking off respectively with the Big Star disciples sparkle jets U.K. and their cracking version of “The Ballad Of El Goodo”. This track recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis with Jody Stephens is accompanied by the ‘B’ side further down the collection “You And Your Sister”. Not only are the original singles issued here, but they are joined by the digital flipside, so almost all acts get a second musical bite of the cherry. The music shifts into the blissful guitar drench of the Broken Arrows and the anthemic “Behind The Eight Ball”. With plenty of nuggets to mine in the punk assault of The Reflectors and the bluesy-Americana of Carol Pacey & The Honey Shakers.
There is plenty of experimentation on offer with the harmonious Shplang, and the eighties-styled Dolph Chaney who crowns passionately in front of a wall of melody. Scottish Futureman label outfit- The Vapour Trails up the sonic notch with a track pulled out of the sixties and flung into the 21st century. One of the great discoveries of 2019 in Welsh based Armstrong with the golden tones of Julian Pitt. Their spacey, beautiful sound is represented faithfully with two cuts from the have-to-hear Under Blue Skies.
With The Hangabouts bells and booming “Who Wants Cilla?” Keeping the flow of chiming guitars. The twisted-hipster of the playful “My Soft Rock Girlfriend” by Blake Jones & The Trike Shop is bouncy enough to cause foot tapping in a corpse. This sets nicely up The Persian Leaps assault to the senses with “Catnip For Cupid”, powerful and brilliant, a track hammering distortion and intelligence in equal measures. With the grimey-glitz of The Walker Brigade and their tempo-switching masterwork “Tower” shows the talent on offer within this collection as it fires relentlessly. The first chapter of this collection, the ‘A’s, closes with a brand-new cut from Joe Normal & The Anytown’rs, a sweet spirited vault of crunching guitars and inspired vocals.
Variety, Prowess and pleasure equates to a compact disc wedged in a car stereo for the coming months. My hope is that albums such as these are sent out to up-and-coming garage bands as a guide on how to execute power-pop-rock perfectly. Big Stir Records: The Fourth Wave is the gift which will keep giving (joy) long after the season of goodwill ends.
Tracklist; The A Sides; 1.sparkle*jets U.K. – The Ballad Of El Goodo 2.Broken Arrows – Behind The Eight Ball 3.The Reflectors – Teenage Hearts 4.Carol Pacey & The Honey Shakers – Crumb 5.Shplang – Spanish Galleons 6.Dolph Chaney – It’s OK 7.The Vapour Trails – Sonic Wave 8.Armstrong – Love Hate Passion And War 9.The Hangabouts – Who Wants Cilla? 10.Blake Jones & The Trike Shop – My Soft Rock Girlfriend 11.The Persian Leaps – Catnip For Cupid 12.The Walker Brigade – Tower 13.Joe Normal & The Anytown’rs – Even Now
The B Sides; 14.sparkle*jets U.K. – You And Your Sister 15.Broken Arrows – Shroomitized 16.The Reflectors – Desert Crusader 17.Carol Pacey & The Honey Shakers – Add It Up 18.Shplang – Pickles Are Fun 19.Dolph Chaney – I Am The B-Side 20.The Vapour Trails – Drowning As I Fall In (Home Demo) 21.Armstrong – September Skies 22.The Hangabouts – Mrs. Greene 23.Blake Jones & The Trike Shop – Disentangled 24.The Persian Leaps – Sweet Nothings 25.The Walker Brigade – I’m Tired
To Order; WebsiteFacebook
Ed Asner Family Center; Website
- Kevin Burke
“Dolph Chaney (It’s OK, I Am The B Side): “It’s OK” is a ballad with a psychedelic freak-out midsection…“If you see me walking down the street, tell me it’s OK…” It’s brilliantly arranged, as the psychedelia persists through the second half of the song. “I Am The B Side” is a fun take on the concept of the B Side being unceremoniously assigned a minor and/or forgotten role…just like some people. Wonderful use of a metaphor as something more universal. “I’m the B Side of your favorite single…you never listen to me…””
- Mike DeAngelis