The sound of The Big East has been described by some as yacht rock. According to their official site, they have even taken the initiative in describing themselves as “cottage rock” and/or:
“If the Steve Miller Band met the Flaming Lips and jammed down at the dock by the cottage…“
which is accurate to a certain point on their new album Hungry Ghosts.
It matters that The Big East identify themselves this way for the simple reason that their music is written for the adult-contemporary music market, or rather, it’s music that’s written for grown-ups with soft hands who have secured their financial holdings. Hence, “yacht rock” or music for yacht owners.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
The Big East’s full-length Hungry Ghosts doesn’t come out until April 7 but did get a chance to listen to it ahead of time to get a better idea of what’s ahead. “The Wild Life” is the first single to come from their genuinely upbeat album which is especially refreshing to someone who “pollutes” their earholes with experimentally exhausting endeavors on a daily basis.
As you can hear, “The Wild Life” is not so complex to distract you from the point which is to generate positive energy, easy listening from the first note.
Another song on Hungry Ghosts is “What Dream May Come,” a slow, sentimental and brazenly dramatic song that gives the steel guitar the job of carrying the atmosphere of the song; you can hear how it weaves and winds its way through the piece.
If The Big East describe their sound as cottage rock then maybe for this song, one could imagine them performing in a barn somewhere near the cottage where sunlight streams in… there’s a steel guitar player in the shadows on that barn, weaving and winding atmosphere created by a retired soul who has one Hell of a “nest egg”.
Then there’s “Across The Water” where The Big East replace the steel guitar with an organ for atmosphere. The fact that they don’t need to lean too much on the technique means that they’re not too distracted with adding these kinds of “accents” to their songs as they’re focused on good songwriting.
But in both cases with “Across The Water” and “What Dreams May Come,” The Big East make no secret of meaning to play it safe by sticking to a formula that guarantees success. They clearly have a template to play in which I can respect. Here’s what The Big Easy looks like performing their single “The Wild Life”.
Here’s what The Big Easy looks like performing their single “The Wild Life”.
Another track called “Love Monkey” sounds as if The Big East have some Stone Temple Pilot influences (STP) which I picked up with the style and the structure of the song. And it reminds me of the direction STP was going in where even when they rocked hard in the adolescence, they did mellow out in the end. Just listen to their sixth and self-titled studio album and you’ll see that the kind of adult-contemporary music The Big East is what STP was turning into.
And look, there’s nothing wrong with that!
At this point, The Big East is growing on me. I especially started to “get it” when their song “Muskoka Time” hits my earholes. But the other part of that is the mentioned template — while they seemed to be sticking to it at the beginning — isn’t necessarily restrictive.
Now’s the time to mention that The Big East is more like from the big North, being, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada. And if you’ve seen any images of Muskoka, their song “Muskoka Time” is the perfect soundtrack to accompany the view.
Here’s a drone video of what a cottage (for cottage rockers) in Muskoka looks like. Now there’s no doubt the band and I are on the same page, even though we’re not in the same income bracket.
And much like taking a boat out and getting caught up in weird spots on the lake, the song also pulls The Big East in a weird direction when they get away from the standard rock and ballad basics they initially seemed to settle for in the already mentioned tracks.
It’s a song like “Muskoka Time” that make The Big East come out on top.
This kind of excellence continues with “My Heart Belongs To Me” which is perhaps the darker sounding track off of Hungry Ghosts, but in the form of smooth and mellow patio music you play while having a glass of wine with friends or with your other half, under the Christmas light-decorated lattice.
Of course, this is also where they’ve finally switched gears toward a Hall & Oates, yacht rock sound their music has been described as which never fails to pull all of my triggers.
“Scarecrow” is another track which breaks from the norm, infused with hints of neo-soul a la Remy Shand (another Canadian fella.) But being that I’m more of an urbanite and less of a “flyover,” the tracks that make an impact for me are tracks like “Scarecrow” and “My Heart Belongs To Me,” definitely in my wheelhouse which might as well be another building near their cottage and barn I’m imagining these boys are jamming out of.
They don’t fail to come back to basics, however, with their track “Too Far Gone,” a three-chord rock song with a soft delivery because like any band worth their weight, The Big East really don’t have to prove anything.
It finally became clear to me that Hungry Ghosts is about being a goddamn adult. You know… when you mellow out and enjoy that lake house, good friends, good wine and better living? You want music that encourages that, music that says that’s okay.
[Featured Image by Working Brilliantly]