by Jordan J. Michael (@jordwhyjames)
The year of 2019 seems to be a moment in musical time where the older, wiser rockers come back and claim the throne: Sharon Van Etten, Oozing Wound, FACS, The Coathangers, Helms Alee, Tim Presley, Pile, Guided By Voices, Stephen Malkmus, Bob Mould, Cass McCombs, and the other noble artists planning to release new albums this year.
We can go ahead and add Coady Willis (drums) and Jared Warren (bass, vocals) of Big Business to that list. The official winners of Best Band of Los Angeles County in 2012 are about to embark on a tour with Sleep, and recently toured with Clutch. Any drummer probably wishes they could be Willis; his sticks go in so many directions within one song, but the rhythm is never broken. Warren’s half-yell, half-sing is unique, and it is a wonder to how many pedals he has running through his bass board; it routinely acts as a sprawling landscape.
As a bass and drums duo since 2004, Big Business can be looked at as the West Coast cousins of Lightning Bolt, another iconic bass and drums duo, which hale from the East. To my knowledge and research, the two have never toured on the same bill before, but they probably should. That would be a soaring occasion to see and hear.
Willis says that Big Business “doesn’t really fit into what everyone else is doing,” but the duo -- which have brought in some guitar over the years, but not recently -- kind of looms around what Helms Alee and Melvins are doing. Regardless, Big Business’ clouded melodies are memorable (they used to be contributing members of the Melvins). The Beast You Are is happening at a fast pace, but Big Biz’s sixth full-length is their longest album.
Take out three short intermissions (“Complacency Is Killing You,” “We Can Swarm,” and “We’ll Take the Good Package”), and The Beast You Are is 10 tracks of hard, fun rock ‘n’ roll for anyone who is getting sick of innocence. Willis’ impeccable, capacious chug is recognizable from the beginning (“Abdominal Snowman”), and Warren plays sculptor (“Time and Heat”), sending his bass lines out as if the sounds were a thinning piece of metal. For as creepy as Big Business can be (“The Moor You Know”), they sure can shine (“Heal the Weak”) and be peaceful (“Under Everest”).
The Beast You Are is a blast off, but tender, and engineered by a guy (Phil Becker) who lists Metallica as one of his recording credits. Mastered by Carl Saff (Dan Melchior, Coco Rosie, Grails, Xiu Xiu), Willis has cymbals of ringing sheen, splashing in the right spots. Warren’s uncharacteristic bass covers the space of two guitars. Big Business learned how to write their type of song long ago; there’s no reason why it should ever stop.