Blue Giant is the recent
wunderkind of Viva Voce’s Kevin and Anita Robinson, who, over the last twelve
years singularly created five albums under that moniker. The music spanned many
genres, but primarily circled in a comfortable orbit around indie-pop that
stretched out to some pretty spacey outer limits. Outstanding guitar work by
the Portland duo, Anita’s silky vocals, along with their perfectly intertwining
harmonies and some lustrous studio production, made for considerably compelling
Came the day, though, when the
couple felt like they’d hit the wall creatively and needed to stretch out and
hook up with some other musically kindred spirits and see what would happen.
The Blue Giant team was created with the addition of Chris Funk from the
Decemberists, Seth Lorinczi from the Golden Bears and Evan Railton from Swords.
Last summer they released a 6-song EP entitled Target Heart to test the waters and the chemistry. The experiment
was a success and 6 more songs were written and added to the EP to make their
self-titled debut for Vanguard, a natural fit for them.
Their new direction is a musical
mélange of rock, Byrdsy country, and a taste of bluegrass banjo that moves them
into the realm of Sin Ropas, Parson Redheads, Holly Golightly & The
Brokeoffs, The Sadies and Beachwood Sparks. Even the structure on the cover
seems to be a sly reference to the Byrds’ Notorious Byrd Brothers cover, and
the band does an awesome cover of “Wasn’t Born To Follow” you can only hear on
their MySpace player. Also check out the video of them doing Ringo’s “It Don’t
Come Easy”, Blue Giant style. The players lavish some fine playing on the songs
with some fancy steel guitar, pedal steel and varieties of treatments on the
good old electric model. Kevin teams up with Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker on a
heartbreaking ballad, “Gone For Good’. “Lonely Girl” sounds like an early Rilo
Kiley country-flavored tunes. Kevin brings a Phil Ochs quality to “The Game”.
Fans of The Dukes of Stratosphere will enjoy the psychotropic pop of “Clean The
Clock.” What would pass for a “hit single” on the album, “Blue Sunshine”, is a
wily mixture of hand clappin’, foot tappin’ bluegrass, gene-spliced with
soaring slide-guitar blues and harmonica. Overall, the album is impressive,
lots of fun and there’s not a weak tune on it.
DOWNLOAD: “Lonely Girl”, “Clean The Clock”, When Will The Sun
Shine?: and “Blue Sunshine.” BARRY ST. VITUS