Cheeseburger: Another Big Night Down the Drain

New York-based hard rock pranksters aim high with a concept album, and land somewhere in the middle


Another Big Night Down the Drain

Label: Williams Street
US Release Date: 2011-05-03
UK Release Date: 2011-05-03
Artist website

At the risk of damning with faint praise, Cheeseburger's eponymous 2006 debut was one of the decade's best Big Dumb Rock records -- loud, funny, boastful (really, it's the album that the Stooges' The Weirdness wishes it were) and tied together with phony DJ banter, weather reports and commercials for a cheesy Jersey bar called Rowdy P's. If you don't have it, go get it. Since then, guitarist Christy Karacas co-created Adult Swim's Superjail! cartoon; the band has added a few additional members; and they've all been spending a lot of time listening to the Hold Steady. Their sophomore offering, Another Big Night Down the Drain, is a loose concept album full of late-night parties, drunkenness and (kinda-sorta) redemption. Unfortunately, setting the band's stoopid actions in a larger context has rendered them far less fun.

At their best, Cheeseburger are still cartoons -- even without Karacas's Superjail! affiliation (the band performs the theme song, to boot), their stint on the Williams Street label makes sense. Opener "Party Song" describes a massive, out-of-control throwdown and unveils the band's beefier, tougher sound, with frontman Joe Bradley getting in a few gems like "Somebody called Tokyo; somebody pay the bill!" After a few more boasts ("Winner", "Big Night"), Bradley's narrator meets some jailbait ("Tight Jeans"), sneaks out to meet a girl ("Jellybean"), gets even drunker ("Deep in the Cups"), loses some girls ("Suzy", "Gina") and finally comes to terms with his screwed-up-ness in a completely no-lessons-learned way ("Roll Like That"). They're all topics that fall squarely in the band's wheelhouse, but the album lacks the verve that made Cheeseburger such a riotous, nose-thumbing blast; it's all too aware of its concept album status. The soulful horns and organs of album centerpiece/drunken blooze "Bobby's Theme" (actually repurposed from the debut record) aren't really what the band does best, but the narrative needs that moment. Elsewhere those horns and organ only draw distracting comparisons to the Stooges, Springsteen and the aforementioned Hold Steady. (Indeed, Karacas's blocky leads feel like they've been run through the Tad Kublerizer.)

All that said, the album's postscript -- a drunken stumble called "Good Time Charlie", which heavily borrows its melody from Bob Seger's "Sunspot Baby" -- is the most likeable moment on the record. So I'll end with a question that these pranksters would surely appreciate: Why so serious?






The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.