The JangleBox

Indie, Noise, Shoegaze… Music

Big Troubles: Romantic Comedy (2011)

Este año desgraciadamente no puedo hacer el mismo anuncio que realicé el año pasado con el primer disco de Big Troubles.  Por entonces, los de New Jersey se alzaban con el primer puesto en mi lista de preferencias personales del 2010.
Romantic Comedy, sin ser en absoluto un mal disco, no es Worry (2010). Big Troubles han querido darle un giro a su sonido, alcanzando un grado de madurez que todavía no les pertenecía. Personalmente, hubiera soñado porque su sonido sucio de guitarras continuase al menos durante un disco más, porque su furia afilada hubiera surcado las ondas de los temas de Romantic Comedy, pero no ha sido así.
Como digo, este segundo álbum no es un mal disco, en absoluto, y es muchísimo mejor que bastante de la producción Noise-Pop de este año, pero echo mucho de menos la distorsión, la urgencia, el nervio de aquel. Romantic Comedy convierte a Big Troubles en algo así como los nuevos Teenage Fanclub, pero a los TFC de  Grand Prix, y no a los de los comienzos. A golpe de producción, toda aquella distorsión, todo aquel Fuzz-Lo-Fi da paso a distorsiones más que contenidas, a golpes de batería engrandecidos gracias a los efectos de la mesa de mezclas, a voces mucho más limpias. A un trabajo de limpieza en el estudio, en definitiva. Y que conste, reitero, que el resultado final es notable, pero no sobresaliente, como en Worry.
Uno de los grandes responsables de este giro copernicano en su sonido ha sido el productor Mitch Easter (Rem, Pavement, Let´s Active), aunque intuyo que no el único. Las huestes de Alex Craig e Ian Drennan han limpiado absolutamente de distorsión todo su sonido, dándole un nuevo lustre a sus canciones, quedando un disco muy coqueto con bastantes arreglitos, aunque los temas ya tienen carácter propio para mantener en pie un gran disco. En un álbum donde nos encontramos con cortes como She smiles for pictures, Misery, Make it worse, Minor keys, Bad girls, Softer than science, Time bomb o Engine, evidentemente nunca vamos a salir defraudados. Tan sólo con escuchar los primeros acordes de She smiles for pictures, el tema más Teenagefanclubiano de todo el disco, ya nos conformamos.
El problema es que al estar tan alto el nivel con Worry, esperábamos un poco más de este nuevo disco de Alex e Ian. Con todo, el resultado es de notable. Y estará en nuestra lista de favoritos.

Big Troubles – Romantic Comedy (2011)

“There’s a great bit in Patton Oswalt‘s latest special that begins with him auditioning for the role of “gay best friend” and ends with a monkey explosively defecating on camera. Obviously, he got from Point A to Point B explaining how romantic comedy isn’t even really an artistic genre so much as a strict format whose monetary success is predicated on telling people what they’re getting and then giving them exactly what they want. While Romantic Comedy is too scrappy and bummed-out for usage in cute montages anytime soon, Big Troubles’ sophomore LP and first for Slumberland is still every bit as beholden to an overt sense of values: If 1990s indie revivalism gets you going like seeing Jennifer Aniston and some other dude find true love does, it’s easy to imagine a tagline saying “from the people who brought you the Pains of Being Pure at Heart and the producers from Brighten the Corners…” doing its risk-free aspirations justice.
Those familiar with last year’s super-lo-fi Worry will certainly be taken aback by Big Troubles’ spruced-up presentation, but it’s hardly surprising: It’s not like they could go much further into the red than they did on their self-produced fuzzbomb of a debut. For the most part, they err on the bookish side of the Slumberland sound, dabbling in both U.S. and UK varietals of mope-pop while producer Mitch Easter (Murmur, Let’s Active) shows a steady hand letting the ringing guitar leads and Alex Craig and Ian Drennan’s hushed vocals exist in a soft and appealing glow.
But while I don’t blame Big Troubles for reaching out to Easter, together they overshoot the mark and ultimately Romantic Comedy often feels like it’s uncomfortable using language and volume more suitable for the library. Single “Misery” is certainly the pluckiest of the bunch and has inspired a few mentions of the Smashing Pumpkins, which is on point if you can find me the pre-Adore singles without the searing guitar work, cathartic lyrics, studio polish, or Jimmy Chamberlin on the drums. A nice major-thirds riff complementing a boyish, breathy vocal only gets you to the point of Silversun Pickups.
It’s a rare record of this sort that makes you think, “If only they raged as hard as Belong does,” but Romantic Comedy innocuously charms instead of breaking hearts or breaking anything really– even the feedback-laced, vaguely glammy “Time Bomb” can’t achieve the kind of escape velocity required to get them out of sounding like a rock band that doesn’t actually rock. Still, they’re precocious songwriters who know from a good hook: If you can get past its title rhyming with “bad world,” “Sad Girls” is a exceedingly catchy Britpop genre exercise, though the big key change sounds like them pressing too hard for extra credit. Likewise, “Softer Than Science” and “Never Mine” have a gorgeous shimmer and propulsion that similarly gets over some remarkably rudimentary “mine”/”mind” rhyme schemes. I suppose you can find the economy of the lyrics to be endearing, but it makes their awkward attempt at purple social critique on “Make It Work”– “such little relevance in the perfumes of high culture”– sound like they might be making fun of the National or something.
More typically, Romantic Comedy earns its title from Craig and Drennan’s narrators mostly dealing with relationships that are ultimately doomed if they even get past the point of premature negation. It’s perfectly fine for a half hour of commiseration or wish fulfillment for romantics who take their loneliness as evidence of their humanity: a treatise on the utter futility of heterosexual relations stems from a glossy magazine ad on “She Smiles for Pictures” (sort of a simplified, non-academic version of Jawbox‘s “Savory“), “Engine” wistfully reminisces of after-school heavy petting (sort of a simplified version of Death Cab‘s “We Looked Like Giants“), and “Minor Keys” goes metacritical in its study of pop’s emotional manipulation (very much a simplified version of the Smiths‘ “Rubber Ring“). Of course, it’s a bouncy piece of jangle pop referencing something other than itself, and that’s Romantic Comedy writ small, appealing and in tune with admirable influences but ultimately lacking the sort of unpredictability or drama that can make these the songs that saved your life rather than reminiscent of ones that can” (

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30 diciembre, 2011 Posted by | Big Troubles | 1 comentario

Big Troubles: Daytrotter session (Dec.1,2011)

Big Troubles

The relationships that come out of the Big Troubles album, “Romantic Comedy,” are those that we place in our past. We not only think that they couldn’t be anything like we’d get ourselves into right now, being of a certain age, as well as being of the elements that one thinks of as somewhat easy to discard away. They feel as if they’re of a different personal era, one that we’ve completely forgotten about, or are willing to erase immediately. It’s not to say that the endings of such things aren’t still capable of bringing us aggravation and disappointment/sadness, but it gets applied to us in the tiniest, most fleeting doses. We can see these interactions playing out in a non-descript diner or restaurant in a nowheresville or everyplace town, with another whose face is universally thought of as fine, but not remarkable.

The relationship ends and she gets up and walks out, mildly hurt – but not for long – and we just pull the fries that she didn’t eat over and squirt a little more ketchup onto the plate. We just make sure that none of that food’s going to waste. Our mind is barely disturbed – only slightly. Others – perhaps even the members of this New Jersey band — might simply ask for the check, whistle their way home, smoke some weed and watch a movie they’ve seen a hundred times before. They’d be a tad sullen and contemplative, but everything would clear out by morning and they’d realize that it had to happen, that it was going to be okay in the long run. There would be a rush of the newness that could be and that there would be a blank page to scribble on, to hatch new plans of love. It could be that there’s an appreciation of the sometimes absurd ways that people treat one another – the petty jealousies and the weird possessive tendencies – that sink even the most hopeful of relationships.
Big Troubles co-lead singers Alex Craig and Ian Drennan dream up these very hazy songs about love that make it all seem like the best way to deal with any of it is to be the bystander you were born to be. Even when they sing the Go-Betweens cover of “Bachelor Kisses” here, it suggests that maybe a guy is not cut out to be anything more than a single man, grabbing kisses, sex and the occasional companionship when it flops down in front of him, when the moonlight is touching just right. It might just be safer and less heartache-y if that was the way they were able to take it. Craig and Drennan sing about those – we’re assuming girls – with hooks for hands and that can get extraordinarily messy in a hurry. They warn, “You get hurt if you play with crooks,” and isn’t that all the more reason to try and see more of the comedic beats as they pertain to romance, than the sentimentality of it all? The “arcade lights are hanging down” and there are rarely winners, just ties, and you start to wonder if we’re men or if we’re marbles, just rolling to the next impediment, down the slopes, a race to the bottom of the pile” (

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30 diciembre, 2011 Posted by | Big Troubles | Deja un comentario

Big Troubles: Phantom (Single, 2011)

Phantom Cover Art

Los protagonistas del mejor disco Shoegaze del año pasado según el criterio de The JangleBox, Big Troubles, acaban de editar un nuevo single, el primer tema que graban en un estudio verdadero. Lo han hecho con Weathervane Music Organization, un colectivo de Philadelphia que se dedica a grabar a bandas que comienzan de manera cariñosa y dedicada. Lo han hecho en un recopilatorio titulado Shaking Through Vol.2. El resultado es espectacular, y sus expectativas, cada vez más altas. Han desaparecido muchas de las aristas que nos encontrábamos en Worry, principalmente porque el tema ya no se ha registrado en el cuarto de baño. Puedes descargar el tema gratuitamente desde la Bandcamp de Weathervane Music.

Big Troubles – Phantom (Single, 2011)

“We hope you like BIG guitars, because there’s even more bigness to Big Troubles than their name suggests. A penchant for mischief aside, these guys can rock AND have a great time doing it. Running a mile a minute they barreled through their new track ‘Phantom,’ the first song they’ve ever tracked in a real studio. May 17, 2011 – Vol. 2, Episode 5 in the Shaking Through 2011 Series features Big Troubles. The project is curated by Shaking Through Guest Curators, Jenn and Liz Pelly of The Pelly Twins. “Phantom”, was recorded on March 5 and 6, 2011. The song was produced by Brian McTear, engineered by Jonathan Low at Miner Street Recordings in Philadelphia. The Video was produced by Peter English, with camera work by Ian Markiewicz, and edited by Mike Plunkett. For more info: (

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25 mayo, 2011 Posted by | Big Troubles | Deja un comentario

Big Troubles: Worry (2010)


Anuncio para todos los Janglies: Worry es probablemente, y si nadie lo remedia, el mejor disco que ha pasado por los oídos de quien redacta este blog en este año 2010. De todos vosotros es conocida mi nula afición por hacer listas de favoritos o recopilaciones, pero con Worry es difícil resistirse. Sus guitarras afiladas, sus melodías audaces y cuidadas, su gusto por la distorsión, por el Noise-Pop, por el Shoegaze han hecho que nos enamoráramos de él a las primeras escuchas. Ellos señalan a The Lilys como una de sus principales influencias, y no es de extrañar, por su gusto y su valentía a la hora de afrontar el Noise-Pop. También señalan a My Bloody Valentine, y es obvio y reiterativo decir por qué. Mencionaríamos también a The Boo Radleys, The Apples in Stereo… un disco de catorce temas que en ningún momento se hace largo a tus oídos es que tiene algo, y Worry lo tiene, y eso que comienza con un tema que no anticipa, precisamente, lo que en él vas a encontrarte. Video Rock es un tema de Dream-Pop con alto contenido en electrónica que no tiene mucho que ver con el resto de la colección. A partir de aquí sólo encontramos temazos: Modern intimacy (genial riff de guitarra, a lo MBV); Byte Yr tongue (melodía a lo JMC con guitarra chirriante); Slouch (a mí me recuerda tanto a Boo Radleys como al Velocity of Sound de The Apples in Stereo); algo semejante a Georgia, cuyas guitarras, a la par que chillonas tienen un halo enigmático, encuadran un tema en onda Elephant#6; Freudian Slips, más convencional, pero tema brillante, con riff de guitarra apabullante y melodía encantadora; Desire for a certain thing to happen, tiene un aire a lo Guided by Voices encantador; Feel nothing es más parecida a Freudian Slips, con ecos Cure y algo de ´80´s; Boomerang nos recuerda que también han disfrutado a The Jesus and Mary Chain en sus stereos; Lord composure y Opposites vuelven a las andadas con las guitarras pesadas; y se cierra la colección con un tema Psycho-Pop: Astrology screen savers, mezcla de sentido del humor y Pop espacial a partes iguales. Catorce temas en los que vas a encontrar variedad y cantidad de influencias y estilos que en ningún momento se superponen, sino que se implementan, para formar un todo casi perfecto: un discazo altamente recomendable. Puedes colaborar con ellos adquiriendo el disco y si te parece, anunciarte en su Web, como otros muchos que ya lo han hecho. Originalidad no les falta…

Big Troubles – Worry (2010)

“As a onetime ’90s shoegaze obsessive, Worry really pushes all my buttons. It’s got that gauzy mix of effects-laden guitars, distortion and melody down pat. And while I can hear specific touchstones — The Boo Radleys, Medicine, Drop Nineteens as well as some of the more obvious ones — the songs definitely stand on their own. You don’t need to have remembered Revolver and Moose to appreciate the album –Worry is choc-ful of catchy songs.  And with a live drummer replacing the sequenced beats on the record, they’re good live too” (

“This immense new album from Big Troubles follows on from a great four-song EP for the Olde English Spelling Bee singles club, featuring the New Jersey fuzz-pop project bejewelled with pop hooks and spurts of brain-scorching noise. There’s an abundance of blistering C86-style pop nuggets on here, from the distortion-surfing ‘Bite Yr Tongue’ to the euphorically hooked-up ‘Freudian Slips’. There’s an overwhelmingly fizzy, treble-some recording style here which imbues the whole thing with a hazy, nostalgic quality that reminds us of everything from My Bloody Valentine to The Jesus and Mary Chain to Dinosaur Jr at their very peak – making for one of the standout lo-fi pop record of the year bar none. Very highly recommended” (

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4 noviembre, 2010 Posted by | Big Troubles | 2 comentarios


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