I received a link to the new music from the Canadian act The Big East. They're from the Lake and Cottage area of North Toronto but to my Southern Californian ears they sound a whole lot more farther South. On the track "What Dreams May Come" they even have a line that refers to "California sunshine and Mississippi mud", not to mention the pedal steel backup and decidedly Country accented lead vocals. In fact, I'd say that if you're hankerin' for a new Don Henley solo album, Hungry Ghosts might fit the bill very well. The lead vocalist could easily front a Don Henley or an Eagles tribute band. He has the same smoky, Countryish quality. If you're looking for something to give you an Eagles fix you're out of luck since although this act seems to have some fine Country-Rock pickers, they're strictly background players.
They sound like a real band with real musicians as opposed to a duo consisting of James Jones and Kip Daynard being produced by Andre Wahl but those three are the only ones given credit in the press kit for The Big East's eleven song sophomore LP, Hungry Ghosts. LP? Does that mean it's on vinyl? Who are the other very fine musicians? On the video below they appear to have a live band.
The Big East - "The Wild Life" live.
Above is The Big East's video on Youtube for their song "The Wild Life". Notice that not only is there a live and very competent band but there is a guitar solo with not one but TWO lead guitarists. When listening to the recorded version I heard these guys jamming under the vocals and waited for the solo but it never came. I've noticed, and complained about, this a lot on the new releases I've heard. Is it a matter of airtime? I assumed it was a matter of musicianship but these guys can play and you can hear them playing great but mixed way down and under the lead vocals. Except for "Love Monkey" which does have a short but smokin' lead solo in the middle and some jamming out on the end of "Muskoka Time" but that's two out of eleven tracks. Someone please use the COMMENTS section at the bottom to explain this to me.
Hungry Ghosts is a play on the Buddhist saying which refers to human beings who are driven by emotional needs in an animalistic way. “We applied this concept to our intense need to create music” Jones asserts.I don't know how ZEN this CD comes across since I would classify it as soft Country-Pop. The instrumentation, playing style, and especially vocal style says Southern California Country Rock/Pop rather than Indie Pop which is what they claim. To me Indie is a term that means not a major label release and is typified by acts such as Beck, quirky and different. The Big East is familiar and comfortable and I'm not saying that to be insulting as I've already complemented the guitar work and saying a singer has the vocal quality of Don Henley is not an insult. Keeping our Eagles comparison going I would also say the production and sound quality is top notch and the songs that do have synth backing rather than guitars such as the title tune and "Across The Water" are moody and richly atmospheric.
I have been very impressed with the quality of releases I've been sent this past year and The Big East's Hungry Ghosts continues that winning streak. Lucky me.