REVIEW: Big D And The Kids Table – Stomp & Stroll

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Artist: Big D And The Kids Table
Album(s): Stomp & Stroll
Genre: Ska/Punk

Some might say that Big D and the Kids Table are fortunate to have successfully existed as a band for nearly two decades. It’s probably worth mentioning, though, that since cobbling together their own genre of music called Stroll (think hop-scotch rhymes, ska-style toasting, soul et al) they’ve really been two bands. 2009’s Fluent In Stroll saw Dave McWane lead the band even further away from their snappy ska-punk roots, after an already ballsy, dub-heavy Strictly Rude two years prior. The mutual trust of the band and it’s fans, from the fedora-capped band-geeks to the drunk punks who remember sitting on the floor for “Quiet Room” resulted in the kind of relationship where anything goes and everything is met with excitement.

So, it’s come to this, Stomp and Stroll, a kick-starter funded double album. One side, Stomp explores the familiar territory revisited in 2011’s For the Damned, the Dumb & the Delirious: some harder-rocking ska-punk that touched on bits from their early catalogue. The other half, Stroll, nurtures their experiment of it’s namesake with “Doped Up Dollies” (think pin-up girls as hype-men) chanting and clapping along to some seriously danceable tunes.

STOMP:

Here’s the classic Big D. There’s the gang reeling across thirteen bouts of peppy ska-punk, McWane’s lilt touching on everything from disgraced tattoo artists to social issues. Overall it sits somewhere in the territory between Good Luck and How It Goes, combining the sonic palette of the latter with the former album’s focus on quick ska tunes. Sprinkle in a bit of the activist that Dave McWane has striven to be and you’ve got a wonderful balance of everything best loved about the band without too much ground being re-tread.

The opening cut, “Stepping Out,” says it all. It’s easy to imagine wirey, big-grinning McWane leaping around an Allston back yard, throwing an arm around the towering Steve Foote who is busy holding down the scale-climbing bass-lines, throwing the vocals over to rest of the band for the chorus and then taking them right back. They’re never quite singing, never quite shouting, always sounding a bit like they’re free-styling off the cuff and it’s a flat-out joy to hear.

There’s the occasional hyper-kinetic jam like “Pitch’n’Sway” that will keep the kids with upturned brims and patches stirring the pit and there’s the wry “Shit Tattoos” that keep things light with a ridiculously satisfying chorus to shout. Capping the whole ordeal is a festive “No Moaning At The Bar” complete with bar ambience and boozy, tastefully off-key vocals. And then you stumble home.

STROLL:

As expected, Big D has nurtured their baby genre and it certainly has grown. With edgier production and a bit of aggression, “stroll” as a musical style might rope in new believers. Last time around, McWane and co. really tried their damnedest to differentiate their experiment, keeping their guitars clean, the percussion simple and steady, and the bass nice and smooth with the focus being on the Dollies and McWane playing off one another. This time we see them let loose a bit musically, keeping things light and fun lyrically.

“Spit That Champagne Out” perfectly embodies what stroll seems to represent. They have taken a ritual of the playground that is more or less exclusive to children, something even passed down by older children to the younger ones. You might never forget those playground rhymes but when was the last time you said one aloud? By their nature, the Doped Up Dollies deliver some lines that you’re not going to be able to shake from your head.

Piano that is decidedly vaudevillian-sounding plinks over the slight crunch power-chorded rock and roll of “Drink Me Down” while the duet of McWane and Dollies on “Tell Me Why” sounds like something you might might dance to on the back patio of a bar on a summer night. Every track has something different to offer, none unwelcome, none expected. It will be exciting to see these pulled off live.

Scores:
Stomp – 8/10
Stroll – 8/10

Review written by: Chris Lawless

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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