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  Big Lazy  
  Big Lazy  
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PostLibyan, I, and the other Minions have an ongoing debate: which is more important to our enjoyment of a band, the lyrics or the music? Some Minions say that ultimately the riff a band plays determines whether or not a song is good; others claim that the lyrics are their focal point - and without intelligent words, even the best melody fails. Me? I fall somewhere in the middle. Every now and then I run across a band that focuses on only one of these elements and manages to pull it off. The Purkinje Shift used to do it for me. I never cared that they didn't have a vocalist; the music was so compelling that a voice would have only distracted from their sound. Another such band is Big Lazy.

Hailing from Brooklyn, Big Lazy is a three piece combo consisting primarily of percussion, echo-y guitar, and stand up bass. I'd never heard of them when a friend told me I should go see them in concert. I was skeptical, but I still made my way to a dank club to see what the fuss was about. And I have to say that they took my breath away that night. Playing a dark reverbed proto-jazz/blues, Big Lazy were the perfect soundtrack to a David Lynch film, a movie perhaps shot in black and white set in the Desert Southwest in a miraculous rain storm.

On the strength of that performance, I bought this album.

From the beginning notes of the first song, Skinless Boneless, Big Lazy invokes their live performance. The reverbed lyricism of the guitar riff is carried along by the slinky bass and even more echoey drums. It's the type of music that seems simple on the surface, but upon closer examination, you realize there there is a lot of careful construction that went into the interplay of the three instruments, most particularly in the way the emphasis within slides from musician to musician, so that there is no clear lead. It's an impressive beginning that is carried through to the next song.

However, just when I think I've got this music completely figured out, they move into the third song: Just Plain Scared. This song begins with what sounds like a full string quartet playing what could be a rapid classical piece (damn me for not paying closer attention to music teachers when they taught me the correct terms!) before the guitar comes in with full delay to pick up the melody. After a bit, the quartet fades out and the bowed bass picks up the feel, before the entire band moves into a more raunchy rockabilly riff. It's a great tour de force that suggests the variety in genre that the band could pursue.

Still it's back to the same haunted desert sound on the next couple of songs before the album hits its odd point: Roam/Sight Unseen. This piece starts off sounding like an instrumental Pixies outtake (with what sounds like a choir in the background holding the melody, instead of the guitar). After about two minutes of this upbeat Indie rock, the band slows down and becomes quiet, and then finally ends by re-adding what sounds like a cello. It sounds strange, but it actually works.

I guess that's the over-arching theme of the album: when I try to describe what it sounds like, it's hard to pin it down. One song may have a reggae beat; another may have a tinkling keyboard. One song sounds like someone gave some ratty old instruments to a jazz group and said, "make do with this!" And another sounds like it could be at home on a straight Indie rock compilation. Yet despite the fact that the music is all over the place, it's well performed and each song is coherent within itself. Furthermore, all the reverb and delay on that guitar marks each song as coming from the same band.

So I guess I would end by saying that Big Lazy is a good album -- not quite as earth shattering as their live performance, but good nevertheless, especially if you like more instrumental music. And although I'd personally like more cohesion across the album, I suspect the disjointed nature is more a reflection on the magnitude of the band's skill as opposed to any

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