Being released only a month before Big D and the Kids Table’s highly anticipated full-length Strictly Rude, it seems as if their split with Brain Failure, Beijing to Boston, has been temporarily pushed aside to allow the glory of Strictly Rude to resonate. However, overlooking Beijing to Boston would be to miss out on even more quality music from Big D and the Kids Table and relative newcomers to the U.S. punk scene, Brain Failure.
The first six songs of the album come from China’s finest, Brain Failure. Now, I’ve been to China (Beijing specifically), and out of the millions of people covering the city streets, I saw exactly zero punks, so for them to exist and thrive is a feat in itself. Furthermore, for a couple punks to learn a decent amount of English so they could sing and tour in the United States is also quite admirable. Brain Failure’s half starts out with “Coming Down to Beijing,” a duplicate of the song off their Turn on the Distortion album, right? But wait, whose voice is that coming over the speakers? That’s right, it’s Dicky Barrett, beloved vocalist of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones! “Coming Down to Beijing” is without a doubt the best song on Brain Failure's half, showcasing their rough pop-punk styles with a massive chorus and sparring vocals between lead singer Xiao Rong and Barrett. “Time to Go” is a fierce hybrid of street punk and hardcore that packs a punch at just a minute and twenty-five seconds. With “Fall in Love 2008,” the band demonstrates their ska abilities as Rong sings a relaxed melody in both Mandarin and English. The band's only downfall is the repetitive “You’re Gonna Die,” which repeats the line "You’re gonna die, it’s a suicide" way more than anyone needs to hear it. Overall, Brain Failure’s half is an appropriate introduction to a band that we’ll probably be hearing of much more in the future.
Big D and the Kids Table’s half starts off with “Faded,” a three and a half minute song that begins with over a minute and a half of passive dub before tearing into a scathing admonition of everything that’s wrong with the scene: "So how the fuck did we even get on this show? / Some promoter must have had to fit a stylistic status quo / […] / I can’t feel my hands / I’m too drunk to find my mind / I don’t want to talk to some screamo kid about how much he digs Sublime / I’m dying in a club that’s pumping ACME through its P.A. / Forever hated by this industry but still finding a way on stage." The best song is the overtly good-natured tribute to their hometown, “I’m Yours Boston,” which also marks the first time the band breaks out into more of a ska sound, as the first two songs were speedy punk rock with horns. “Running Young” is the first Big D and the Kids Table song I can recall that doesn’t have horns, and demonstrates that the band is quite capable of writing quality songs using the short, fast, and loud formula. After “Running Young” is “Digging in Your Nails,” which sounds much like their How It Goes material, more specifically sounding a great deal like the song “You’re Me Now.” At nearly five minutes long, the trad-ska “Ruin You” brings Big D’s half to an end with somber lyrics about the consequences of living as a touring musician.
You simply can‘t go wrong with Beijing to Boston. The first half serves as a great introduction to Brain Failure, the band credited with founding the punk scene in China and now making inroads in the United States and across the world. In the second half, Big D and the Kids Table demonstrate why they are one of the biggest bands in ska-punk, with a terrific set of songs that are a must for any Big D fan.