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Big Block 454: Bratislava

Playing the first song from Big Block 454's latest cd entitled Bratislava brought a smile to my face. A feel good song if there if ever was one and one of the album's strongest. This is the first I have had the pleasure of hearing this band and I was happy to have made their acquaintance. Big Block 454 hail from Manchester, England and consist of Alex Stone (guitar, accordion, kantele, serious vocals), Colin Robinson (fretless bass, corrupted vocals, xaphoon) and Mark Joell (keyboards, funny vocals). The band plays their own peculiar version of progressive pop/rock with a nod to Krautrock and psychedelia. In the poppier parts I hear bands such as XTC and in the more psychedelic moments bands like Can come to mind but in reality this band has a sound all their own and I have heard nothing quite like them. They have an extensive body of work as this is their tenth release.

This is clearly a band that does not take themselves too seriously (you can probably tell from some of the song titles) and provides some interesting moments to be sure. The songs are mostly mid to up tempo with jangly rhythm guitar, interesting percussion and strains of accordion and keyboards interspersed throughout. This isn't complicated music but it is not meant to be. The vocals also show variation as all members of the band contribute in this regard.

As far as other notable songs, the percussion driven "Anglezarke" takes a more serious approach with electric guitar providing a slow build up to an interesting ending slightly reminding me of The Beatles experiments in Eastern sounds. Sharp bursts of electric guitar and monk-like chanting make "I Rue the Day I Went to Bratislava" one of their more avante-gard efforts. The infectious folk/pop of "Lush Ulan Bator", with a slight nod to XTC, will have you singing along even if the lyrics do not make much sense, but that is what adds to the charm and makes this band so fun to listen to.

In an age when far too many people take themselves too seriously (probably for good reason) it is refreshing to hear a band this quirky yet still retaining an accessibility that could potentially appeal to a fairly wide audience. I think anyone who enjoys pop music with a leaning towards psychedelic/Krautrock will find a lot to like here and I can recommend this without hesitation.

Track Listing:
1. Motorcycle Au Pair Boy
2. Anglezarke
3. I Rue the Day I Went to Bratislava
4. Hi, Lax Old Medic!
5. I was Authur Brown's Health & Safety Advisor
6. Lush Ulan Bator
7. Foreign Aeroplanes Upset Sleeping Tirana
8. Three Sevens Clash
9. Melamine
10. Upside-down & Dirty
11. Ouspensky's Cellar
12. Packing Away

Added: March 22nd 2009
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's MySpace Page
Hits: 1433
Language: english

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