Big Mouth - Sound (Cover Artwork)

Big Mouth

Sound (2013)

Loon Balloon Records

Separating a band’s live performance from their recorded material can be difficult, especially when there is such a tremendous stage presence as Big Mouth’s. Easily the most stylish punk band, dawning the most fashionable dresses, suits, and shoe selections (guitar shredding is one thing, doing so while thrashing about in heels is nothing short of an art form). But this is not about seeing a great band in person, it’s about Big Mouth’s LP, Sound. 11 tracks of just that, the weirdest, most varied, intense punk sound. The scattered ferocity from vocals on every song, trapped in the clutches of bass, released through snappy, crashing drum work; all relentlessly chased by road-running rhythmic strumming and piercing, hypnotic riffing.

Sound is harsh. Grating, even. It is so out on the edge, one can’t help but become infatuated with the Baltimore/Washington DC area foursome. Vocals take on the patterns and delivery somewhere between Wendy O. Williams and Ian MacKaye. “Cherries” and “Black Mamba” feature the shouting of swaggering assertions and declarations. The building, questioning nature of “Apple” results in disordered, beckoning recitation, “am I, am I, am I the apple of your eye?,” appropriately placed on top of a looping, dizzying guitar riff.

The instrumental portion of the album takes turns featuring itself between choruses and hooks. “Moontalk” presents the deepest, darkest, dirtiest bass lines of the album, feeling like it came out of the earliest punk eras. There are particularly nice drum fills and cymbal smashing on “Sisyphus” and the very literal “No Words.” The guitar playing on Sound is diverse, often stealing attention by both leading and following the other elements flying around. It fits perfectly on every single song. The waviness in “Circling,” the down-tempo driving and exploding in “Rocket,” the sharp, slightly tinny, shuffling in “Kill Time.” Everything works.

“Don’t You” is the prime track on the album. There is a definite hardcore vibe, one could envision Bane covering it, given the constant diving and bottoming out, paired with the catchiest, rhyming vocals during all of Sound’s 26 minutes. “Emergency Jungle Boogie” is another example of everything coming together cohesively. Spiraling and distorted riffs fall from the sky, as bass shakes the ground, and a lyrical dance party swings and jumps around. A fun title for a fun track.

Big Mouth is what punk and hardcore need. They are conventional in many respects, easily fitting in with any given sub-genre, but once you are tightly reeled in, the band shakes your head and yells in your ear. At times you feel like you should escape, but you can’t stop listening or enjoying what I imagine would be the soundtrack to an oddity filled, punk rock carnival. There are a lot of attractions to focus on in Sound, giving it much replay value, a ride to go on over and over again.