In the tradition of muscular two-piece hard rock bands such as Lightning Bolt and Death From Above 1979, dwells Los Angeles-based Big Business and their sophomore full-length effort Here Come the Waterworks, their second for Hydra Head Records. Produced by former Jack Endino accomplice Phil Ek, whose credits include Built To Spill’s There's Nothing Wrong With Love and The Shins’ coming-out-party Chutes Too Narrow, Waterworks digs its heels in early for a rawk-ously heavy low-end ride and hardly relents, even though you might want it to.
Let me just get this out of the way: Big Business is by no means breaking new ground musically. Their sound basically boils down to two guys grinding out beefy hardcore as loud and heavy as humanly possible. Big Guy Jared Warren wrestles bass and vocals, Little Guy Coady Willis mans the drums and scant backing vocals. And how they do beat the crap out of their instruments! However, with song titles like “I’ll Give You Something to Cry About” and “Grounds for Divorce” and an irreverent myspace profile, there is a persistent tongue-in-cheekiness to their growling groove that betrays a lack of seriousness towards their material and themselves, which is refreshing given the overly-serious nature typical of the hardcore milieu. It should come as no surprise then that the duo of Big Business was recruited to fill out the rhythm section of post-metalist weirdos The Melvins for the recording of an album and a subsequent tour.
Although Waterworks leaps off from a point of departure and seldom veers before arrival, it makes a couple of sonically surprising – albeit brief – pit stops along the journey that may shock, but won’t confound the listener. Five tracks in, “Another Fourth of July” suddenly veers into actual singing – all melodic-like and everything — but then dives right back right into Jared Warren’s post-adolescent grrrrowl. And, an entirely instrumental track “Another Beautiful Day in the Pacific Northwest,” rounds out the set.
Big Business does show at bit of a weakness for the ill-advised sprawling tracks explored in their debut Head for the Shallow and continued in Waterworks, which might inspire the listener to give in to the temporary glaze of near-boredom, particularly during the last two tracks – the aforementioned “I’ll Give You Something to Cry About” and “Another Beautiful Day.” However, these moments are few and far between and there are some highlights worth mentioning: “Start Your Digging” has a feint riff-rock grooviness, and the lead track “Just as the Day was Dawning” busts you right in your semi-ironic mutton-chops.
While it never reaches the singular apex of the Head for the Shallow track “Focus Pocus” — with all of it’s paranoid tough-guy posturing — Here Come the Waterworks is a solid, uncontrived effort. It lacks slightly in nuance, which isn’t entirely a bad thing considering this album is being released in a year preceded by exaggerated metal bands like Boris and Isis woefully and confusingly reaching many critics best-of lists. It’s good to hear a band lay down some tracks without pretension, even if it is over well-trod ground. After all, “new” and “diff’rn’t” doesn’t always equal “good” or “inna-resting.”
That said, the curious listener might be better off diving into Head for the Shallow before fully immersing yourself in Waterworks.