If you’ve been following the indie press recently, you will have noticed 2 things. The first is that the name Big Ups keeps appearing everywhere. The second is that no one seems to have a bad word to say about them.
In fairness, this adulation is fully deserved. The New York post-punk/post-hardcore/post-rock 4-piece have seemingly appeared out of the blue, and released an early contender for “Album of the Year 2014”. Eighteen Hours of Static is an innovative and fun listen that manages to engross the listener with tales of 21st century frustration from start to finish.
Perhaps one of the best things about it is that it manages to be articulate as well as angry, which is something very few punk and hardcore bands seem to have down. From the opening blast of bent bass notes on ‘Body Parts’, you can tell this will not be your typical four-chords-and-shouting affair.
The rest of the album doesn’t let-up in its angst, with singer Joe Galaragga tackling a variety of sign-of-the-times problems with the amount of venom that they rightfully deserve. On ‘Justice’, he echoes the thoughts of the recession generation, as he screams “everybody says it’s getting better all the time, but it’s bad”, over a heavy, stop-start punk riff. Meanwhile, on ‘Disposer’, “disposable culture” is given a thorough hiding, backed up by a snakey, Fugazi-like performance from the band.
Perhaps the only major problem with the album is the nursery rhyme simple rhyming couplets that pepper the lyrics, which often take centre stage during the quieter moments in the album. At times, lyrics such as “Dogs off her leash/She’s mashing her teeth”, which features on the otherwise blistering ‘Fresh Meat’, are heavily reminiscent of Crispin Glover’s ‘Clownly Clown Clown’ (search it on YouTube if you’re not familiar with it, it will give you nightmares).
Ultimately though, this is a minor nuisance in an otherwise fantastic album. This is punk rock, not poetry, and the sincerity in Galaragga’s delivery makes up for the lyrical flaws anyway.
Big Ups are “Our Band Could Be Your Life” material. They’re the thinking man’s hardcore band. If you’re into hardcore, punk, or are just generally a bit ticked off with your life, then Eighteen Hours of Static is simply an unmissable album.