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Big Heet - "Yellow Badge (Demos)" | Album Review

by Catherine Vianale (@catherineveeee)

Tallahassee post-punk outfit Big Heet’s latest 3-track demo, Yellow Badge, showcases the group’s unique brand of anxious instrumentation, seasoned punk finesse, and political values. “Suitandtie Skin” greets the listener with a deluge of discordant and disjointed bass and guitars in true post-punk fashion, beginning and ending with a relentlessly catchy bass part that I’ve watched turn Tallahassee house shows into a room full of head bobbing spectators. Vocalist and guitarist David Settle (formerly of Ex-Breathers) tackles timely political and social problems, injecting the already forceful instrumentation with deeper influence and purpose. “Suitandtie Skin” tackles what Settle calls “fake fucking angels” - people posing as progressives or activists in order to hide their abusive behavior. 

At a modest 53 seconds, “Yellow Badge” instantly plunges into a hard-driving tune that starts with some of the dysfunctional, edgy sounding aspects found in "Suitandtie Skin," before suddenly exploding into a head-banging, arms-flailing power-chorus that carries the track into its abrupt end. The title track also carries another important historical and political reference, timely with semi-recent shifts in political administration. Jewish people in Nazi Germany during World War II were forced to wear yellow badges in public, which facilitated the Nazi agenda to increase anti-Semitism by separating Jews from the rest of society. Settle tackles this heavy inspiration with poignant and ominous lyrics, reminding the listener “we’ve all seen this happen before.” The depth of lyrical content in this track is contrasted beautifully with its brevity. The overwhelmingly powerful narrative is crammed into a small package that truly makes the listener think about what is being said, before ending almost as quickly as it starts.

On the EP's final track we find a pleasant and unexpected surprise; Big Heet rediscovers “Paper Dolls” by The Nerves, turning the well-known pop melody into their own brand of powerful post-punk. This track shows the band’s versatility in spinning a canonical rock song with their personal flare, also the perfect round out to an edgy, anxious demo of originals. It’s the musical equivalent of getting to the sweet layer of the Sour Patch Kid after your mouth is burning from the weird sour shit on the outside, but you also really, really like the sour shit a lot. This release follows their 2016 self-titled demo, both of which were released on cassette.