Big D And The Kids Table - How It Goes (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Big D And The Kids Table

How It Goes (2004)


Riding the third wave was never this much fun.

Okay, you can ignore the obvious press rip attempt and just rest assured that Big D And The Kids Table take you on a memorable trip through How It Goes, their epic ska-punk manifesto that easily proves itself as the band's best work yet. From the ensuing keyboard-led, Slackers-esque instrumental opener "The Sounds Of Allston Village" - much akin to Good Luck's "Find Out" - to the final blaring trombone wail in "Moment Without An End," the band entrenches you in 72 minutes of absolutefuckingfun.

Musically, whatever the band did in the past that influenced their biggest followers, ASOB, is ever-present here. To state the similarity is obviously unfair for the party at hand, but it's hard to argue with where the progression of both bands has led them. They even sprinkle sparse dashes of more accessible pop here and there. But what gives Big D the identity is that they can pull off anything from a "good times punk rock song with some horns" song ("Girls Against Drunk Bitches" [which could easily pass for a "Checklist" sequel], "You're Me Now"), to laid-back roots-inspired cuts ("Safe Haven"), to upstroke-laced, head-bobbing optimism ("Chicago") to straight ska-punk fun ("New Nail Bed"). They carry this diverse ideal throughout all twenty songs, mixing things up to keep nearly every minute interesting. For the most part, the band keeps my interest for the better part of the hour-long disc. Their variety is assisted evenmoreso by their liberal use of interspliced audio clips from old-timey advertisements/voicemails/vinyl-playing instruction/etc. etc., the proper sequencing of the five-minute mini-epics, and the mercurial horn lines, which can softly soothe or strongly command.

However, the one major problem here are the lyrics, which are too silly most of the time. Although it's a straightforward approach that seems to walk (or skank) hand in hand with the nature of the album, they're overbearing in places and hurt the album from really making a big impact. "Bender," "My Girlfriend's On Drugs," and "President" are pointed but immature even for the style. One of the better efforts of such narration is the aforementioned "Girls Vs...," which gives a vague play-by-play of the telltale action at hand in an almost-hardcore punk rock fashion and female vocal additions, making for one of the standout tracks amongst a decent handful of candidates. And of course, they have their appropriately grandiose "fuck you" - "LAX" (the original of which appeared on their 2001 split with Five Knuckle) calls out upper-class elitists dwelling in the Los Angeles area. The band jumps from parodying L.A.'s self-questioning fashion technique to the band's own serious self-questioning, asking if their struggling act as a non-corporate-funded band is still worth it.

While I've always loved Rob Dobi's artwork (and there's no exception here), his style doesn't really "fit" the album's apathetic yet happy, fun feel - which is why I absolutely love the fact that his song-by-song illustrations were included in a small "book" completely separate from the actual liner notes. You get morbid but clever black/white/periwinkle-color drawings showing Children Of The Corn-esque situations, perhaps not perfect to glance at as you're smiling along to the chorus of "You're Lost, You're Crazy," but appropriately cynical contributions nonetheless.

Any anticipation that may have been built up by the long wait for this record is mostly rewarded by Big D And The Kids Table. The band still doesn't take themselves at all seriously, and although I'd like even a sporadic handful of more topical issues to be dealt with, be it continually personal or otherwise, their no-worries mindset is both understandable, approachable, and enjoyable. Stellar production and still sloppy, jumpy, rocking, and fun as hell, How It Goes is, despite some occasional dragging moments, indeed an opus and easily the best ska-oriented effort the year has brought us.

New Nail Bed
You Lost, You're Crazy