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Big Dipper
Supercluster - The Big Dipper Anthology
(Merge)

Supercluster is a welcome collection of Big Dipperís out of print releases on the Homestead label, as well as a CD of outtakes and demos recorded following the bandís first and only major label album. The bandís music is a mix of the eraís New South (R.E.M., Letís Active, The dBís): the sound of clean, jangling guitar lines, and the dissonant, primitive rock sound of many of their label mates (Dinosaur Jr., Live Skull, Phantom Tollbooth). But where so many of their peers were preoccupied with serious matters, often dressed up in heady, obscure references and emotional performances, Big Dipper kept their music light, using seemingly goofy historical and scientific references to allude to more personal and emotional concerns.

Despite lyrical concerns that seem light and silly, the bandís music is incredible. Guitar lines snake around each other, while the drums and bass guitar provide a simple rhythmic structure. The vocals arenít perfect, but have a charm that most ďgoodĒ singing performances donít have, namely in their ability to convey the feelings of rather nerdy performers. Taken together, these qualities make it easy to get lost in Big Dipperís songs: this is an eminently pleasant collection; one great, if unassuming, song after the other.

The collectionís arrangement is great as well. As the music proceeds in chronological order, from the bandís debut EP, Boo-Boo, through their two Homestead full-lengths, Heavens and Craps, itís easy to hear the band gain confidence in their songwriting and performing abilities. The songs move from skeletal pieces, to songs that are more full-bodied, surely a combination of better recording situations and growing ability. The final disc, a collection of what could have been the bandís second major label full-length after the failure of their major label debut, acts as a perfect final act for the band. Where their major label debut suffered from over-production and bloat, forcing the groupís songs into an alien situation, these songs Ė many just demos Ė sound as if they could have corrected the mistakes of the previous release, if only theyíd ever been officially released. Now, thankfully, they are seeing the light of day, and itís a fitting end to the story of a band that might never have been heard beyond the living rooms of a very select, but happy Iím sure, audience of record collectors and people that got to experience the bandís existence.


-Jeremy


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Friday, April 18, 2014 All Contents Copyright © 2014 Stinkweeds Music