BIG DRILL CAR (Buy CDs by this artist)
Small Block EP (Varient) 1988 (Cruz) 1990
Album Type Thing (Cruz) 1989
CD Type Thing (Cruz) 1989
Tape Type Thing [tape] (Cruz) 1989
Batch (Cruz) 1991
Toured (A Live Album) (Headhunter/Cargo) 1992
No Worse for the Wear (Headhunter/Cargo) 1994
Orange County, California's Big Drill Car specializes in bouncy punk-pop, full of hooks, harmonies and exuberant playing. Frank Daly's earnest and clear vocals and Mark Arnold's sharp, efficient guitar work brighten the six-song Small Block, a near-perfect introduction to a very likable quartet. The inexplicably French-titled "Les Cochons Sans Poils," which suggests the group has listened to as much Cheap Trick as Black Flag, stands out on a record whose only disappointment is its brevity. The band's first full-length opus (the title of which is format-specific) mines similar terrain, though only a couple of the tracks are as immediately catchy. Still, as the jaunty "16 Lines," "No Need" and "About Us" prove, you'd be hard-pressed to find a band straddling the hardcore, power pop and hard-rock fences with more finesse and enthusiasm.
Batch upholds the group's stylistic consistency: riffs, tunes and punchy rhythms collide in an enjoyable blend of big rock, vampy thrashfunk and nicely detailed pop that hardly belongs on a punk-rooted indie label. The originals (with typically loopy titles like "Freep," "Ick" and "Restless Habs") are engaging without quite reaching irresistibility ("Faster" comes close); the metal-edged cover of Devo's "Freedom of Choice" is pointless.
The live Toured was recorded for $215 at CBGB in the fall of '91; capping off a brisk half-hour of the band's zippiest rock originals is a distressingly sober rock cover of Billy Joel's gruesome "Big Shot."
No Worse for the Wear might describe Daly and Arnold on the Big Drillers' third studio full-length, but the band's original rhythm section didn't make it and was replaced. Otherwise, the album continues into a loud power pop domain not far from Material Issue, Smoking Popes or the Lemonheads all informed by abiding Cheap Trick instincts. Tight, focused and nearly free of Batch's incipient arena proclivities, No Worse is Big Drill Car's best, a bracing blast of nifty chord maneuvers, songcraft and harmony-brushed singing. Oh, and the song titles are fashioned to standard specifications ("Nagaina," "Hye").[Doug Brod/Ira Robbins]
See also M.I.A.
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