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Big Kid, You Must Be Kidding (self-released)
Big Kid is a San Diego-based quartet that specializes in classic power pop, and their seven-song debut EP is perfect for the summer. These guitar-driven songs are great for blasting in the car or on the beach, featuring hard-driving choruses and the kind of subtle hooks that make each song seem instantly familiar. The band grew out of numerous songwriting sessions between drummer Steve Clark and guitarist Damian Hagger. Both men had attended the Berklee College of Music in the mid-'90s (yet didn't know each other then). As the songs developed, the idea of a band to play them seemed a natural progression. Steve's brother Doug was enlisted to play bass and Los Angeles-based vocalist Ken Stacey joined them in the studio to record the songs that would become You Must Be Kidding. Since that time, singer/guitarist Craig Henry has joined the group (in lieu of Ken Stacey) and they recently played as part of the 2003 International Pop Overthrow Festival in Los Angeles. "Feather" is a jaunty rocker, a tale of someone obsessed with a girl seen in a magazine, and most infectious. "Pop Song" is a slower tempo song, again about a woman (this one appears on a billboard) who the singer can't get out of his mind: "Like a pop song that's been played for so long / I hear you all the time". "The Girl Is Alright" tells of one who is wasting time and her mind, in a musical style akin to OK Go. "Extremes" is another pleasant rocker with driving guitar, recalling groups like Phantom Planet and/or Tsar. In this song, the girl-in-question's picture appears on the second page of the newspaper. "I Hope You're Happy Now (Without Me)" is a bitter song of contemplation about the ex-, her wining and dining, and even his very replacement (who he sees reaching the same contemplative state). While Big Kid seems to have the requisite power pop chops, hearty guitar anthems with hooks aplenty, they also seem capable of more. On two of these songs, there's a definite stylistic tribute to the songs of Andy Sturmer and Roger Manning, Jr. "Time in a Day" and "Change Your Mind" (the only songs here written solo by Steve Clark) are impressively Jellyfish-like. You Must Be Kidding is some serious stuff. While these seven songs just come to a little over 23 minutes total, they present a very appetizing sampler from which to attract record label interest. Certainly, Big Kid has talent enough for someone to take a chance on them soon . . . maybe even you.