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Big D and the Kids Table - For the Damned, the Dumb & the Delirious (Cover Artwork)

Big D and the Kids Table

Big D and the Kids Table: For the Damned, the Dumb & the DeliriousFor the Damned, the Dumb & the Delirious (2011)
Side One Dummy Records

Reviewer Rating: 3
User Rating:


Contributed by: yourpeanutbutterisokyourpeanutbutterisok
(others by this writer | submit your own)

It's a dilemma that countless bands have faced over the years: whether to stay true to the sound and style that defined and established their early career, or to expand their sound. The former is the conservative route, exchanging a little artistic credibility for likely stability regarding both alb.


It's a dilemma that countless bands have faced over the years: whether to stay true to the sound and style that defined and established their early career, or to expand their sound. The former is the conservative route, exchanging a little artistic credibility for likely stability regarding both album sales and fan retention, and has worked fine for plenty of bands (hello Bad Religion!). The latter certainly requires more artistic creativity, but risks alienating the fans who have brought you to this point.

Boston ska-punkers Big D and the Kids Table took the latter route on their previous offering. Riding a wave of generally popular reaction to 2007's roots ska-heavy Strictly Rude, the band put out Fluent in Stroll in 2009 and received a decidedly mixed reaction. Some (myself included) hailed the combination of "double-dutch, ska, reggae, and soul" as the pinnacle of their lengthy career. Many purists thought the opposite, decrying the album's lack of punk energy and attitude, and pined for the days of 2004's hardcore-tinged How It Goes.

Suffice it to say, the members of Big D have heard the criticism. Their fifth proper full-length, For the Damned, the Dumb & the Delirious plays like a direct response to the condemnation that they had lost the punk spirit that fueled their earlier, more frenetic tunes. The album's opener, "Walls" hits like a ton of bricks. It's a raucous mix of ska and horn-driven skatepunk that will fit right in with fan favorites like "LAX" or "Hell on Earth". From there on, the band embarks on 16 tracks that all would sound completely out of place on Fluent in Stroll but fit in nicely with their early catalogue. The only problem: The material simply isn't as good.

As a whole, this album just feels forced. It plays like a checklist (see what I did there?) of their past characteristics, but none of it feels spontaneous or natural at all. This becomes most apparent in the lyrical department. Big D's lyrics have always featured themes of drinking, friendship, parties, girls and Pabst Blue Ribbon pretty prominently, but here it's taken to a new extreme. There's even a failed attempt at a Dropkick Murphys-style working-class pub sing-along in "Best of Them All". In the past, these references always seemed to come across as byproducts of frontman Dave McWane's enthusiasm; now it feels like the songs are the byproduct of the need to fill a quota of drinking references. The packaging confirms this suspicion: Every picture in the lyric booklet is a scene at a bar. Other lyrical low points occur in hardcore rants "Brain's-a-Bomb" and "It's Raining Zombies on Wall Street", both of which feature McWane frenetically (and pointlessly) attempting to show political awareness while not managing to muster more than "world is evil / brain's a bomb / greed, greed, greed, greed, greed!" The world already has one Anti-Flag, and that is far more than enough.

The poor lyrics are accentuated by subpar vocals from McWane. He rattles on with a rowdy, reckless abandon, but the only point seems to be to prove to the lifers that he's still capable of ranting and yelling like an underground punker. There are few (if any) moments that recall the pop sensibilities and melodic emphasis that made Strictly Rude and Fluent in Stroll successful. Furthermore, the vocals on the slower tracks (particularly "Roxbury (Roots n' Shoots)") are laughably bad, featuring lazy, drawn-out enunciations drenched in reverb. They completely ruin the chilled-out vibe the rest of the band has established.

Before I drown this review in negativity, let me remind you that this is a release by Big D and the Kids Table, and there are redeeming moments here. This is not a bad album. The first three songs ("Walls", "Clothes Off" and "Modern American Gypsy") are killer ska-punk, full of energy and boppy hornlines. "Not Our Fault" and "Riot Girl" would be right at home next to Strictly Rude's more upbeat numbers. Even the weaker tracks generally contain bits and pieces reminiscent of past triumphs. However, this band has already proven to be capable of much more than this. Despite my love of their previous two releases, the back-to-basics approach would have worked with a stronger batch of songs. Instead, they've given us their weakest offering to date, a forced collection of songs that feel lifeless despite being faster and louder than anything they've put out in the past seven years. Here's hoping McWane and Co. go back to the drawing board with their conscience and slate clean next time, and fan reaction pushed to the backburner. When they put their mind to it, they've proven they can do great things.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
telegraphrocks (December 23, 2012)

This thing's a grower.
Fun album.

kylewagoner (November 11, 2011)

This album is sub-par as shit.

teabandit (September 14, 2011)

I remember reading an interview after 'Strictly Rude' came out where McWane spoke about doing a sort-of double-album-released-seperately called 'Strictly Thrash/Strictly Dub', and so when 'Fluent In Stroll' came out I was pleased that (a) Big D were dedicating a whole disc to a style their obviously interested in pursuing and (b) 'Stroll' was actually a successful, enjoyable and competent departure from their old stuff. I was looking forward to the next release, which would be a return to the stuff we already know they can do damn well.

This isn't that record. Or rather, it should have been. The reviewer is dead on; this is a forced record. Here we have 18 songs, of which only about three are instantly loveable, with the others taking a fair bit of time to get under your skin, and when they do, they don't have quite the same effect as the old faithfuls. 'Rotten' doesn't get you skanking like 'Noise Complaint', 'Brain's-A-Bomb' doesn't smash your ears like 'Checklist', 'Destination's Gone Astray' doesn't shine like, well, 'Shining On' and nothing is as mental as 'Girls Against Drunk Bitches'. Obviously I know they're not trying to re-write old songs but you get the idea.

It is evident throughout that something has suffered from the loss of Sean P. Rogan; hopefully it will be just the album and not the band. Rogan appeared to be the prominent songwriter, with McWane as lyricist, and that goes some way to explaining why this record sounds the way it does. According to the liner notes, the chords for 'Clothes Off' were written by erstwhile touring guitarist Brian Klemm of Suburban Legends, don't know if that changes anyone's opinions. They also appear to have a radically changed horn section, with more members retiring from touring. I love Big D, certainly enough to have faith in the new blood, but perhaps if the band had toured these songs/the new members a bit more, and put recording the record off for a few months they'd have been better for it. Maybe some of the surplus would have been dropped off, who knows.

I guess I'm just disappointed that this isn't a glorious mash-up of Stroll-style chill ska and punk-in-your-ears How It Goes style ska-core. Negativity aside, there's a few great songs on this album, ('Walls', 'Modern American Gypsy', 'Not Our Fault', 'Good Looking') and like the reviewer said, there's highlights on all the tracks (the horn part on 'My Buddy's Back' is a particular favourite). It could have done with a bit longer in the oven and/or losing about five-or-six songs.

At the very least, hopefully this change in style means they'll play L.A.X. live again.

martinNZ09 (August 30, 2011)

Have listened a few times now and I am really liking this album

Bring on summer and BBQs

picante (July 13, 2011)

Talk more musical texture and less lyrics band progression in your Album review. I personally think the album is very stimulating music-wise (granted it could be shorter). It sounds like they are going with a "strictly rude" style while experimenting with new musical pathways. I'm also assuming that your claim for the sound being "forced" is due to their drastic change from the fluent in stroll album, but that has nothing to do with the music on this album. You're generating a theory of sound based on ideas you have about the band, which can't be proven without member interviews. Your complaints on McWane's voice seems relevant, BUT for Big D fans, we all already know what McWane's voice sounds like, so ranting on his vocal abilities is redundant. I don't mean to shit on your review, but the lack of description about the songs does not do the album justice.

notfeelingcreative (July 11, 2011)

Loved the last two records, I'd much rather they have continued on that path.

paulrulzdood (July 11, 2011)

i also agree with the 'trim the fat' comments. I feel like punk/ska bands used to load up their albums with 15-20 songs because of song length and the fact that albums were $15-$20.

now albums are either free because you stole it or $10 cuz you went to best buy or iTunes...so we don't need the filler, we don't need justification to spend the money. just give me your best 10-12 songs from the recording sessions and save the rest for an EP or give them away or whatever.

I can't stand it when a band lets a great album be diluted by filler tracks just to make the album longer

paulrulzdood (July 11, 2011)

i'm getting this at the end of the month but i'm not too stoked based on this review. I also heard it's a "recationary" type album, a response to the critizism they faced for Fluent In Stroll not sounding like classic Big D.

I find this unfortuant because i personally think Fluent In Stroll is far and away their most interesting, entertaining, creative and enjoyable album.

Paul

romanjsmith (July 10, 2011)

i miss their old drummer, he had such great flow

yourpeanutbutterisok (July 10, 2011)

seans retired from touring but he and the new guitarist both played on the new album. idk how large a role he played in songwriting though. theres a part in "rotten" that is very recognizably rogen but most of the guitar playing is really basic punk power chords and ska upstrokes. none of the guitar atmospherics sean had been working into their sound on the past 2 records

af_punk86 (July 9, 2011)

Or perhaps not? The wikipedia page credits him even though he is no longer in the band...I guess MXPX rules apply here?

af_punk86 (July 9, 2011)

It's worth mentioning that this is the first release without founding guitarist Sean P Rogan...

pinkpenguin (July 9, 2011)

better than Porch Life

BluthCo (July 9, 2011)

I agree with the reviewer. This album has some really good songs, but also some misfires, especially in the lyrics. The posters saying Big D should cut back the number of songs on their albums are right on the money.

zatransis (July 8, 2011)

I mostly agree with this review. The album is decent to good, better than most albums that have been released or will be released this year, but it lacks the sincerity of Fluent in Stroll. I loved FiS and though I enjoy this album I wish it was more of a continuation of that tone.

jacknife737 (July 8, 2011)

Love this record.

i-type-poorly (July 8, 2011)

I apologize for calling him McWade, by the way.

i-type-poorly (July 8, 2011)

If Big D had any kind of quality control to their albums, this would probably be a hit. It's like they never cut shit. The gimmicky songs are too forced (agreed on "best of them all"). McWade's lyrics are way too on the nose at times ("My Buddy's Back" and some anti-republican song late in the album... I agree with these things, but it's so simple and repetitive, I just want him to shut up.)

Also, they couldn't agree on a closer, so they just put all three songs up. "Good Looking" is epic. best song on here. The next two are punk-by-numbers boring. Quite uninspired, in both lyrical content and format.

Just like How it Goes, once you trim the fat, it's good old fashioned Destruction By Definition fun, and still about 30 mins long. The bad songs just distract a bit too much.

Lovey-dovey lyrics aside, I liked Fluent In Stroll a lot. I'd rather they do more versatile stuff, then play to the same old fanbase that I'm not sure exists all that much anymore.

stevejonestherealbones (July 8, 2011)

havent heard this yet, waiting for my record to come in...

i've noticed that big d also hurt their records by just flat out including too many songs...

they should all stick around 12 songs instead of 15-20, anyway, fluent and strictly were both great, still looking forward to this one even though people dont seem too excited

- nickname

- nickname@email

slimpunk (July 8, 2011)

Your review is right on. Big D is a much smarter, more talented band than this album. It lacks any kind of soul and wit their previous releases had, and I'd certainly prefer another Fluent In Stroll over an hour of mediocre ska-punk.

TSOL (July 8, 2011)

Maybe it's just cause I've grown past most of the ska-punk genre, but I didn't really enjoy this. Makes me want to put on 'How It Goes' instead

fifthwheel (July 8, 2011)

not really digging this as much as the last two its still a good album but jsut not up to the standard they set in the past few years

fifthwheel (July 8, 2011)

not really digging this as much as the last two its still a good album but jsut not up to the standard they set in the past few years

MN_DrNick (July 8, 2011)

Good album.

rosshostage (July 8, 2011)

The reviewer's name might be my favorite on this site. Kudos to you sir or madam!

kylewagoner (July 8, 2011)

I loved the shit out of Fluent In Stroll. Haven't listened to much of their stuff before that, but liked it pretty well. I don't even like ska and I really enjoy Big D...and now I'm questioning whether or not I should buy this album. Hmmph.

inagreendase (July 8, 2011)

I couldn't be sure if I'd just grown out of this style, or if Big D just wasn't doing it as well as they used to. I'm reading a lot of reviews of this that seem to indicate the latter.

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