Big Dipper

Craps

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    7
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A less immediately accessible album than Big Dipper's full-length debut, 1988's Craps has a hazy, nearly psychedelic vibe on most of its lengthy tracks. While pretty far removed from the hard-edged power pop of early favorites like "She's Fetching," these nine songs don't deserve the mutters of "commercial sell-out" that greeted the album's release. (Big Dipper would not actually attempt to sell out until 1990's disappointing Slam.) Steve Michener and Gary Waleik's bass and guitar tend to trade places on this album, with Michener's bass as likely as Waleik's guitar to carry the melodies. Over this post-post-punk stew, singer Bill Goffrier sings quirky character studies and vignettes like "Meet the Witch" and the chipper "Hey! Mr. Lincoln." The clear highlight is the woozy, atmospheric "Ron Klaus Wrecked His House," a real-life story concerning Goffrier's former Embarrassment bandmate, bassist Ronnie Klaus, and his attempts to get out of his lease, set to a trippy, harmony-heavy arrangement that sounds like the Hollies on downers. Much of the rest of the album lacks that sort of cracked majesty, but Craps is a better album than its reputation (or its title) suggests.

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