Big City Rock

Big City Rock [EP]

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Big City Rock's debut EP helps headbanded men run in place. Their tennis shorts are tight, the wristbands are white, and the polo shirts says "Vaurnet-France." Go ahead, try it -- the L.A. combo's self-titled effort will gladly be your soundtrack, since it's unabashed and proud of its 1980s pop influences. With its keyboard-addled guitar riff and punchy beat "Do You Know What You Want" is a thrilling rewrite of the song playing behind the credits of every teen sex comedy of the era, and "Human" tries on vintage synth pop as Nate Bott channels Bono. Best might be "Better Place." Mid-tempo, led by a tinkling keyboard, and with clunky lyrics like "'Cause it's all an illusion/It causes confusion," it's only the slashing rhythm guitar and a deliberate pace that link it to the 21st century. Without those elements, "Better Place" is a power ballad through and through, straight from the archives of Bad English and Glass Tiger. And that's okay. Because while the Killers wink at the past with an ultramodern smirk, Big City Rock seems to be having fun writing and producing referentially. They even have a dedicated keyboardist in their ranks. [This All the Best version of Big City Rock's debut features the four songs the band originally self-released, re-recorded with more keyboards and tighter arrangements. They're augmented with three live tracks and acoustic song called "All the Way."]

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