Why you need it: The guitar-driven joyous energy of post-punk and early 1990s alt-rock, with thoughtful angst
Style: power-pop, post-punk, I’d say alternative rock
Put your earbuds in and turn up the volume on Big Fang’s Human Distance, as you want to vibrate with the guitar licks. Remember the other day when the midliner was “music for you and your mom too”? This one’s also music that works all the way from Gen Z back to Gen X — in a darker, more post-punk vein, where the lyrics engage emptiness and futility, while the music itself will somehow leave you happy.
Big Fang’s influences are a roll call of a certain range of great alternative bands of the 1980s and early 1990s — Nirvana, R.E.M., Hüsker Dü, The Cure, Guided by Voices — and part of the fun is hearing those influences in this riff or that chord, this layering of voices or that lyric. The overall impact is fresh and urgent — it just gains additional dimensions if you share the band members’ love of their musical forebears.
Big Fang is Connecticutians Tony Mascolo (guitar, vocals), Grayson Jeffries (guitar, vocals), Chris Otero (bass), Jacob Doherty (drums), and this is their first EP together. It’s convincing, to the point that I’m literally paging through Google, going why did I not see you live in February? and oh ho ho ho there’s a convenient gig in July. The three songs on the EP all deal with efforts to connect and the things that push us apart.
Are you ready to go track by track? (Yes, you are. EP’s are so cool — 10 minutes of excitement and then we can all go back and listen again.)
Frame — Yeah, feel the rising tension of those opening guitar and drum. I’m feeling some of the same rushing-toward-doom, off-kilter energy of R.E.M.’s “Driver 8.” Pay attention to the chorus’s non-rhyme-scheme: on the first listen, I wasn’t sure if the key words were life, line, and lies or just lies every time — because it works whichever way you hear it. (It’s the first option.) This is a tremendously apt getting-over-it song because it frames the wretched obsessive process of sifting through the relationship’s debris, reworking what every clue meant, in moving-on energy.
Emergency brings the tension up a notch, and I love how the opening lyrics can be read as admiration or defiance, depending how you’re framing the experience at that moment. The long guitar-drum section ushers in a shift in mood that brings in frustration and a plea for connection. It’s a fun piece of irony that the happiest, most soothing part of the song addresses the distance itself. (If I were 25, I’d have this on repeat. I may do that anyway. It’s an irrationally satisfying song.)
Who Knows You tells the most concrete tale of failure to connect, paired with a inspiring pre-chorus and pre-chorus and those irresistible guitars striding mightily through the darkness. It’s like the message of “Eleanor Rigby” reimagined for Millennial sensibilities — which is philosophically an improvement, since it doesn’t treat distance as inevitable or a tragedy that happens to other people, but instead as a screw-up that we want to act on.
It’s going to be tough to decide which song to add when I do playlist updates tomorrow — I’m leaning toward “Emergency” because the weird little enigmatic chorus just feels so good. Human Distance is also available as a download in all the usual places to buy, including Bandcamp, and Big Fang is good about updating their performance schedule on Facebook, so check both out.