Big Wreck
Ghosts


4.0
excellent

Review

by SitarHero USER (33 Reviews)
June 11th, 2014 | 78 replies


Release Date: 07/15/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Rock isn't dead. Canada says so.

Big Wreck has long been ignored outside of its native Canada or dismissed as a Canadian Soundgarden clone/ripoff due to frontman Ian Thornley’s Cornell-evoking wail and the band’s penchant for alternative rock that’s heavily steeped in Zeppelin-esque classic rock tradition. The band’s closest brush with international fame was on the back of its 1997 single ‘The Oaf’ and the soaring ‘That Song’ from its debut LP In Loving Memory of…, but the band, and Thornley in particular, have cultivated a devoted cult following in North America over the intervening years, leading to a reunion album after a ten-year hiatus in the form of 2012’s Albatross. In an uncharacteristic move, particularly by 21st Century standards, the band has followed up Albatross with Ghosts barely two years later despite near constant touring. And, any way you cut it, Ghosts is a fine addition to the band’s discography.

Thornley, in addition to being a damn fine singer, is a superb guitarist, as his Berklee pedigree will attest to. Big Wreck has often flirted with progressive rock, particularly on their earlier material, and even on Ghosts, while the band might at first glance come off as a somewhat generic modern rock band, close listening reveals some impressively intricate layering and a diverse palette of sounds that is subtle and deceptively simple-sounding. Thornley is a terrific slide-guitar player and his considerable skills are seen in his solo on ‘A Place to Call Home’, but also pulls out some pretty droning chords in an alternate tuning and a fretless guitar solo on ‘Diamonds’ to give the song a very Indian/Oriental feel. Throughout the album, he manages to experiment with sounds enough to easily distinguish songs from each other, but not so much that the album does not flow smoothly or sound disjointed.

Throughout the record, the band as an ensemble finds time to stretch out and flex its musical muscle, such as on the title track for an extended jam over a Stevie Nicks-Edge of Seventeen guitar figure, and on the heavily proggy ‘Friends’ which cycles through some stomping riffs, jangly chords and then takes a left turn into Dream Theater territory with its combination of neck-breaking time signature changes and keyboard solo during its coda. Despite these frequent extended jams, the band plays so well together and manages to keep the jams so organic sounding that you wouldn’t realise a song was 6-7 minutes long if you didn’t look at the track length.

Despite all of the band's impressive yet somehow unobtrusive instrumental wizardry, Thornley manages to keep things catchy and immediate with his muscular voice and knack for vocal hooks. The Cornell comparison is hard to ignore, but Thornley is arguably a better vocalist than Cornell at this point in time because his voice manages to radiate the kind of warmth that Cornell has lost over the course of a career spent pushing his voice past its limits. In terms of style, Thornley is a bit of a chameleon; he evokes various influences - from Zeppelin to U2 to even Coldplay(!) - with his melodies while sometimes struggling to really highlight his own uniqueness. However, he truly shines on some of the more laidback songs like ‘Still Here’ and 'Off and Running' where his voice combines with the underlying music to generate an atmosphere that seems to be the closest thing to an identifiable trademark.

While Big Wreck has often been criticized for being generic and not having anything different to say in a saturated rock landscape, Ghosts shows that close listening will reveal that the band has a strong sense of identity and is by no means just following the crowd. This is an impressive release by a band this deep into its career and provides hope that perhaps rock isn’t really dead. At least, not in Canada.



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user ratings (28)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
SitarHero
June 11th 2014


4752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've been a casual fan of the band for a while, but I am genuinely surprised by how much I enjoy this album

Stream is here:
http://albumstreams.com/s/big-wreck/ghosts

Scoot
June 11th 2014


17917 Comments


that song is the goat alt rock song

will check

SitarHero
June 11th 2014


4752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You won't regret it. Album is secks.

BUK
June 11th 2014


19 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ghosts is magnificent! How could you NOT mention Hey Mama! It's the BEST Big Wreck song EVER! Anyway you made some great observations!

http://www.thornleyfans.blogspot.com/

Grizzlypyro
June 11th 2014


197 Comments


Cover reminds me of Bioshock's Rapture, good review too.

SitarHero
June 11th 2014


4752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The album cover is very art deco. Kinda reminds me of Batman: TAS, and Blade Runner. Interesting choice of art fo' sho.

NodScene23
June 11th 2014


272 Comments


Always liked this band's song "Ladylike." Good review, I'll look into this and perhaps Albatross.

SitarHero
June 12th 2014


4752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I remember not being particularly impressed by Albatross when it came out. I might need to give that another spin, but this one got my attention immediately and kept it.

BUK
June 12th 2014


19 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

All Big Wreck albums are perennials... go back and listen.... they're quite timeless. iTunes is offering remastered versions of ILMO and TPAG. TPAG is STRIKINGLY clean and dynamic! They are an extraordinary band!

NYdubber
June 12th 2014


76 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I am completely surprised by this album - I loved their debut but the next two did very little for me. This one though, within 5 seconds I knew that opener was going to be solid, and it was; song simply had that feel to it. I was completely expecting the rest of the album to be a bit of a let down and am happy to say it was the exact opposite. This should be a top 10 album of the year contender.

Green Baron
June 12th 2014


20354 Comments


Albatross is p good

SitarHero
June 13th 2014


4752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@NYdubber, I completely agree. That's pretty much exactly how I feel.

Hopelust
June 19th 2014


1129 Comments


"while the band might at first glance come off as a somewhat generic modern rock band, close listening reveals some impressively intricate layering and a diverse palette of sounds that is subtle and deceptively simple-sounding."

This is definitely the case with most of their albums. Requires attentive listening to catch all those gems. Makes for quite an enjoyable experience, all in all. Thanks for reviewing.

bloc
June 19th 2014


35024 Comments


Ugh That Song makes me tear up every time I hear it, soooooooo good.

Holy fuck this is pretty good too. The solo in the title track is incredible.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
July 17th 2014


13465 Comments


really dig that cover

OmairSh
July 17th 2014


11924 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sitar sighting!

Album art reminds me of the animated Batman series for some reason, frikkin coooo, as is the band name

SitarHero
July 17th 2014


4752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wadup Omair! Check the album out. It's good stuff! And yeah, the artwork is VERY Batman: TAS art deco.

swordsforhands
July 17th 2014


425 Comments


Cover reminds me of Bioshock's Rapture [2]. Sole reason I will be checking this out later. If I had seen this in a music store somewhere I probably would have picked it up because of the sweet cover art.

OmairSh
July 17th 2014


11924 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Artwork is seriously just brilliant agreed. OOOHHH this IS the same Thornley that formed the band Thornley. Used to jam them, and yeah his voice is very Cornell-esque. Nice, will check

SitarHero
July 17th 2014


4752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yup yup. Dude's a seriously good singer, but he's a frikkin awesome guitarist.



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