Almost Famous is a good example of a band making an album before they’re ready. (Which is weird, because this is their second album, but never mind.) Big Eyes plays the kind of bouncy, guitar-driven power-pop-punk that relies heavily on melody and vocals to drive the tunes and make an impression. After all, at this point there are literally thousands of guitar bands out there, and one distorted riff sounds much like another. So it’s up to the voice of Kate Elridge to carry the day, and sadly she’s not up to it. Even by the admittedly low DIY standards of garage rock or pop-punk, Elridge’s voice is just too weak and wavery to make an impression. The rest of the trio is serviceable on drums and bass, with Elridge on guitar duties, but even when the band is tight, as on “Wanted Sometimes”, “The Sun Still Shines” or album opener “Nothing You Could Say”, the music is undercut by Elridge’s inability to hold a note without going flat. It’s too bad, because some songs have promise: the catchy riff of “Can’t Catch a Break”, for example, or the midtempo groove of “Being Unkind”. I’m no music Nazi, and plenty of terrific singers aren’t technically proficient, but a certain basic degree of chops is needed. Big Eyes doesn’t have it.
// Notes from the Road
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