House of Large Sizes

  • House of Large Sizes
  • House of Large Sizes [tape] (self-released) 1987 
  • House of Large Sizes EP7 (SouthEast) 1987 
  • One Big Cake (Toxic Shock) 1989 + 1991  (What Are Records?) 1997 
  • Heat Miser (Toxic Shock) 1990 + 1991  (What Are Records?) 1997 
  • I'm My Own Grandpa EP (Westworld) 1992 
  • My Ass-Kicking Life (Red Decibel/Columbia) 1994 
  • Glass Cockpit. (What Are Records?) 1997  (-ismist) 1997 
  • Idiots Out Wandering Around (What Are Records?) 2000 

The entropic laws guiding both romantic and rock behavior virtually ensure that bands containing real-life couples are doubly crossed nags that will surely not make it all the way around the far turn, so save your money and bet on something safer. Yet out there in Cedar Falls, Iowa stands the six-legged beast known as House of Large Sizes, a band led by mistermissus singer/guitarist Dave Deibler and bassist/backing singer Barb Schilf.

This modest, down-to-earth, self-possessed and patient modern rock band evinces no adamant commitment to a specific sound — anything’ll do so long as it’s loud, semi-melodic, a little raucous and rhythmically uncommon. The trio popped out its first album in 1989 (the dandy, sensible, Pixiesque One Big Cake), a second in 1990 (Heat Miser, combined with the debut on CD in 1991) and then bided its time with a five-song EP until it was invited under the golden arches of a major label four years later. My Ass-Kicking Life shifts aimlessly but amiably through various stripes of casual, approachable rock, scaled small (the twangy, semi-acoustic “Sneaking Up on You,” the spare “Mohair Pear”), big (the grunge-bottomed “Sox on Spot” and “Nocturnal”) and inbetween (the tunefully ’70s-riffing “Mean & Hateful”). Deibler’s voice tends toward squeakiness, but there’s no edge in his emotionalism and that keeps it out of the red zone. What’s more, his lyrics are clever and odd enough to hold attention even when the music drags. Winning the geniality award (the IDed picture of a cat is a typically homey touch) hands down, My Ass-Kicking Life only wants for the memorable tunes — Schilf’s chorus answer to Deibler’s lead vocal in “I Think I Know That,” lays in a catchy hook, making it the strongest track here — that would have left a deeper footprint.

[Ira Robbins]