Bigwig - Unmerry Melodies (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Unmerry Melodies (1997)


The beginning for anyone, must start at the beginning. This is Bigwig's beginning.

Not that this is an excuse, or even an alibi. This is a solid album, and not even the production can take that away.

A little raw, but all first-time indie releases are (except for the modern era), Unmerry Melodies contain twelve jarring tracks (discluding the phone message thirteenth) that are now embedded in many of Bigwig's fans' minds, songs that serve as the anthems (and then some) for a good portion of Bigwig's sets.

The issues dealt with are, about half the time, serious issues that underlie the cynical, "fuck off" lyrics. But wouldn't you expect that in Bigwig's roots?

"Old Lady" asks the Social Security demographic to get the hell off the road. This song probably has some of the better backup vocals of any track on the disc, but because you can't relate to this song in any way, how about asking right-wing Christians to keep out of the business of abortioners in "Pro-Life Taker"? "Who decides what's right for this young scared girl's life?/It should be her decision/Maybe in this case there's no wrong or right/but it shouldn't be a fight/So you bomb another clinic"

The "Cheers" theme is a splendidly-crafted cover, and if this isn't sing-along anthemic then I don't know what is. It has that Dropkick Murphys bar-room feel of it, ironic as that sounds. The breakneck beats that lead us into "My So-Called Fiend" is an intro not to skip over.

Despite the band's claim to half of them being vegans, "Carnivore" displays some of that self-mocking playfullness. The song closes with "ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXMEAT".

"Girl in the Green Jacket" reminds me of a punk rock version of the Ataris' old "Sleepy". It is a good closer before they predate the Sopranos and make fun of New Jersey mobsters.

There is no intricate guitar work like there is on later albums, especially Invitation to Tragedy, but the singalong longevity of it makes it a must for any Bigwig fan, because without the first album, there is no discography.