CD Review of Son of the Tiger by The Big Sleep

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Son of the Tiger
starstarstarstarhalf star Label: Frenchkiss
Released: 2006
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Hey, look, you’re going to New York City, right? New York City or some such big metropolis of culture, language, and commodity. It doesn’t matter if it’s New York, or Phoenix, Muscle Shoals, Trenton, or Baltimore. Just some city where maybe you haven’t been before and you’re looking for that thing to keep your feet moving in a way that they don’t move when you’re comfortable in your own hometown. You’re out and about. Business trip, party luncheon, celebrating a death or an acquisition. It’s just ‘not the same as normal’ is the point, right? Right.

Well, at least you’re with me so far. You get out into these places and you’re goddamned lucky if anyone cares these days, let alone wants to give you good directions on how to get back. There’s a shack out back. There’s always a shack out back somewhere in some old greasy blues song or rock nugget that everyone forgot about as soon as it was recorded back in the dusty hell from which it was spawned. The old shack out back with a local hot group rocking the structure. Look, this time it’s the Big Sleep.

The Big Sleep out in the shack in the middle of some backwoods forest tuning up, practicing, and generally sweating it out as the moths explode against the tacky Coleman lanterns swinging from the shack’s rafters. What is this place and what is this music and where did it come from? New York City. Yeah, but it doesn’t sound like that typical New York bullshit that the kids love to hear on the digital jukebox. There’s no greasy front man up there pretending like he ever knew what rock and roll was and is here to save us all. No, there’s a couple guys and a girl and they’re doing some spaced-out hard driving blend of hypno junkie rock.

Don’t drop a comparison here, all right? How do you get back home from this damned shack? Wait, how are they getting those sounds? Are you even listening to me any more? Look at me, goddammit! Now the girl is singing two lines about…what? I don’t know. It’s good, though. The songs are like little heat-soaked mini-symphonies that split off into feral places and then come back as a fucked up, not quite right Spirograph outline of an approximation of the minute in which the exploded pieces started to come back together. It’s approximate, but it’s not accurate.

Wait, let me get my notes. It’s getting small in here. The rush of “Murder” and “You Can’t Touch the Untouchable” is relentless, like the gnawing teeth of rats packed into a steel cage and biting furiously at the confines to get the hell out of there. Injected with mellow moments lifted from some ethereal plane that so many trip-rock fuckers can’t get right because they’re too busy trying to communicate how hip their slacks are rather than just working their instruments. The mellow gets killed at regular intervals, brought back into a dynamic hue of pulsing drums and bass, with some strange alien sounding parts and a guitar on fuzz overload.

You can have a drink and get it together, man. Or you can lose it. There’s a lot of initial exploration here in the grooves of “Are You Ready (For Love)?” and “Locomotion” that hasn’t been touched before. None of this has been explored, actually. Fresh, unbroken ground that snaps when the blade of the spade cuts it in the dew that gathered pre-dawn. This is all a new experience, being blasted from that forlorn shack out in the middle of nowhere that the band then sets fire to after they’re all done and moves on to the next one. The Big Sleep got it right.

~Jason Thompson