Big Arm - Radiator
Oh dear. I do apologise.
Apparently this album is made by some seasoned musicians (specifically Paul Ryder, bassist of the Happy Mondays) but I can’t hear it. I've no idea what sort of music this album has on it. I'm all for freedom of creativity, and not defining or “pigeon holing” music but this is ridiculous. What is this??
They sometimes sound bluesey, sometimes country, and they even rap a little bit, despite doing a cringingly bad job at it (see "Love Is"). They make heavy use of cheesy synthesised drum beats, the occasional choral effect, and they don't forget to jam in that ‘obligatory rock guitar solo' - which is occasionally good, such as on chilled poppy "Sunrays." There are spaceship sounds, a ska styled keyboard riff and robotic vocals on “Ska 3000” (I suppose they’re trying to go with the year 3000 theme so it makes sense.)
“Electraglide” sounds not unlike a half arsed B-side from cheesy 90’s boy band 5ive. “Flashbacks” is mostly a cheap and cheesy drum beat, flat vocals and cheap sounding trumpet with even cheaper sounding mixed sex noises sound interlude. “Into You Now” continues with that theme, in that it sounds like it'd make perfect backing for a porno…
Okay I shall have to give them some credit. "Ska 3000" is pretty catchy at times. “Love Is” is a cool track, with its cool blues riff, funky drum beat, cheesy violin, choral effects, and random sound effects, reminiscent of some embarrassingly bad cheesy pop from the early 90s. Somehow this mad mess works, but unfortunately Big Arm has a vocalist. The guy is trying to rap? Sing? It’s terrible anyway. Vocals on the album are occasionally decent, with those on “Flashbacks” sounding a bit like that guy from Hard-Fi. However some voice coaching would really not go amiss!! Lyrics are pretty dull too.
I admire the use of trumpets on “Flashbacks” and “Into You Now”, a solo in the first, brief flashes of brass added to the drum beat in the latter. Despite the artificial quality of the sound, it adds to the music. Sadly the boys seem to forget all about this instrument, and we don’t hear it again (apart from a particularly awful synthesised trumpet on “Get Back”).
“Welcome” is as good as this album gets, with an odd country feel o start, some strange babbling alien (?) and a comic super deep speech interlude. I want to hear trumpet in this! But alas...they didn’t think of that... This song also gets repetitive after a while, a theme which runs throughout the album. The track would do well as kids TV backing music, being happy and poppy and cheesy. Actually “Flashbacks” would suit this role too (so long as they skip out the sex noises).
Okay well “Radiator” is well mixed, has some decent ideas, some of the effects are okay, but they’re put together in an odd mish-mash. I don’t know what you’d do with this music – I wouldn't listen to it...and I don’t feel there’s enough there to dance to. I also think they could tone down the terrible artificial sound and feel to their tracks.
To put this contructively, Big Arm seem to be pretty undefined in their creativity. They need to tighten up, find a direction, work on quality instead of quantity.