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Ghosts

Big Wreck

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Album Review

Canadian grunge rockers Big Wreck broke up after the 2001 album The Pleasure and the Greed, with lead singer and guitarist Ian Thornley forming his own Thornley namesake band and continuing his solo career. A rekindled friendship between Thornley and Big Wreck guitarist Brian Doherty led to Doherty joining the Thornley band, which in turn became the second coming of Big Wreck when everyone concerned went into the studio and recorded 2012's Albatross, which didn't so much change the group's original 1990s Soundgarden-like sound as much as restate it. This second album with the new lineup doesn't bump things too far off that original sound, either, although it does expand things a bit in a slightly more prog rock direction, with some acoustic-based tracks tossed in as well. Grungy fuzz guitars lead off the sprawling, nearly eight-minute-long opener, "A Place to Call Home," and since the album ends with a short one-minute acoustic and harmony vocal-laden reprise of the song, it's tempting to expect a prog rock-like concept album here, but that's not the case, really, although the 12 songs and the reprise do flow nicely together over a big sonic palette. Big Wreck still sound a bit like a Canadian Soundgarden, are still heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin, and could still be mistaken for Coldplay's northern brother on the radio, but there are some new sonic wrinkles here, too. "Ghosts" and "Come What May" both sound a little bit like early Police, while "Break" and "War Baby" suggest Bono and U2's big-themed stadium anthems. "Hey Mama," one of the best tracks here, has that acoustic/electric Eastern drone feel that Led Zeppelin were so good at decades ago. But overall, Big Wreck haven't messed around with that classic 1990s grunge approach too much here, which may or may not prove to be a good commercial decision going forward. But they do it pretty well, whatever the outcome, and with a lineup of three fine guitarists, there's little doubt that this is a rock band whose members know how to rattle the walls and cell doors as long as they don't paint themselves into a predictable, generic corner.

Customer Reviews

What rock is supposed to be

New mixed in with odes to rock greats past. Sit down and take a musical journey into the creative side of anti-pop rock. Listen to a band that is not afraid to try new. Listen to one of the most underrated bands in history. Listen to what the professional players listen to. Listen to what you never knew you where missing. Big Wreck.

I See Ghosts

Ghosts

Over a stripped down structure, killer baseline, a throwback disco beat, Floyd's picking pattern insert a big Thornley/Sumner chorus and you've got Ghosts. It's nearest rhythmic relative is Floyd's "Young Lust". Most of The Wall was in reaction/answer to the Disco revolution that was happening at the time; the driving beat that gripped pop music in the late 70's. It was completely anathema to rockers, but Floyd made it not only palatable, but kind of stamped the rock over the top of the whole scene. It is with this "ghost" that Big Wreck choses to dance. Ian's, respect for, and recognition of, Sting and the Police's echo of the same Floydian "ghosts", permeates the melody.

The subtlety throughout the track, from the delicate picking pattern that swells behind the verses, to the tight funk slide that kicks it off, shows a willingness to explore other flavors. Live, a little Floyd was sprinkled into the intro to Big Wreck's Ladylike over the years and now it's fair game for it's own tune.

Ian sings of longing for home, being bound by ghosts. As a musician carves out his own ground, among the influences that shape him, what does he call his own? Especially when they're drawn from ones that still reverberate today. It is a familiar Big Wreck theme, like Defined, from TPAG. It's a musical journey, but a personal one too. How do we escape the Ghosts of our DNA, or familial patterns we've inherited? Dust and light. Flesh and Spirit. Always a depth in the lyric that we expect from Ian.

As I said before, this is some different territory for Big Wreck. Not different process-wise, because it mines 70's prog for inspiration, like many BW classics have, but different because Big Wreck has never so boldly taken on disco/funk. Even if it comes though a Pink Floyd filter. And WOW what results! The spare sections of Beat and Bass set up Ian's sexy Roy Buchanan toned solos. The authenticity with which Chuck Keeping and Dave McMillan groove through this track belie their rock roots. You'd think they was funked out forever!

The huge chorus is forever burned in my mind, like it will be in yours. Melody rules on this album! The lines change in the last chorus as Ian is wont to do. And if my scars were tattoos, I could hide them in plain view… well he's doing it. The ride out is pure funk jam. Clean tone, sinewy lines, loose jam like Control and You Caught My Eye from Albatross with some tasty interplay.

Scars or influence; they're in plain view, and I for one, hope his Ghosts never let him go.

Great Title track...

…now if only Doubledrive would get back together and tour with Big Wreck. That would be mind-blowing.

Biography

Formed: 1994 in Boston, MA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The neo-prog hard rock outfit known as Big Wreck was formed by Ian Thornley (vocals, guitar), Brian Doherty (guitar), Dave Henning (bass), and Forrest Williams (drums). The quartet members met in the early '90s when they were studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Eventually, the four spent more time jamming together than attending class, and they soon decided to leave school to form Big Wreck. The group became a fixture around Boston and Cambridge, regularly playing local stages. After...
Full Bio
Ghosts, Big Wreck
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Prog-Rock/Art Rock, Hard Rock, Metal
  • Released: Jul 15, 2014

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