The Big Bright Lights were a short-lived indie rock duo whose sole album, Take Manhattan, was recorded in 1997 but remained unreleased until 2001. The duo consisted of Jeff Gerber and Derek Niedringhaus, both formerly of the Champaign-Urbana emo band Castor. When that band split in 1997, Gerber and Niedringhaus formed the more melodic and less intense Big Bright Lights, recording all instruments and vocals on Take Manhattan by themselves. Though the Big Bright Lights were popular enough in the insular emo scene to be mentioned by name in a song on the Promise Ring's Very Emergency album, the album was not properly released at the time of its recording (bootleg tape and CD-R copies circulated) and the Big Bright Lights dimmed quickly. Niedringhaus joined the pop-punk band Sarge for their final album and then formed the art rock-leaning Centaur. Gerber devoted his attention to National Skyline, a duo with former Hum leader Jeff Dimpsey that had a more electronic, dispassionate style than either the Big Bright Lights' soaring guitar rock or Castor's punk-rooted emo. Mud Records, to which both Sarge and National Skyline were signed, released Take Manhattan in July 2001.
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