Big Lazy

Postcards from X

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It's natural to peg any instrumental trio with standup bass, stripped down drums, and reverb guitar as a retro act. But NYC's Big Lazy challenges all preconceptions with a dynamic, even punkish attack that is rooted in the '60s but remains contemporary. Guitarist Stephen Ulrich leads his troops into battle on the rain slicked, urban back streets with black leather jackets unzipped, ready to rumble. The band's third full-length is its first with color cover art and the music follows form; subtle splashes of tango, including an Astor Piazolla cover, and a slightly more layered approach that includes atmospheric and perfectly toned Farfisa organ enhance the stark sound. Those touches expand the palate but not so far that the ominous and most intriguing aspects of the music are compromised. Certainly tracks such as the percussive "Drug Czar" have Tom Waits circa Rain Dogs written over them. But Big Lazy keeps its noir-ish instincts intact, even during the relatively bouncy "France." Rock/punkabilly lurks just under the surface and comes up for air on the more aggressive "To Hell in a Handbasket," one of two originals from bassist Paul Dugan. It's a roaring double-time slice of tough walking bass and slashing guitar squeezed into a dynamic three-minute time bomb. Song titles such as "His Brother's Wife" and "The Confidence Man" are movies waiting to happen, and Big Lazy treats them as soundtracks to flicks in their, and our, imaginations. The appropriately named Postcards from X pushes the band's boundaries and inflates but never belies its B-movie artistic vision, all in just over a half-hour. Mighty impressive.