album reviews

Big Business
Mind the Drift
Hydra Head (2009)

After two albums as a bass-and-drums duo, Big Business has added a guitarist, Toshi Kasai, for its third release, "Mind the Drift." The group's two original members have quite a pedigree on the noise-rock circuit: Bassist-singer Jared Warren (ex-Karp) and drummer Coady Willis (ex-Murder City Devils) have supplemented the rhythm section for Seattle grunge band the Melvins since 2006.

In Big Business, Warren always used to play his bass like a guitar, adding tremendous power and volume to Willis's thunderous percussion. The addition of a guitar has surprisingly softened the group's sludgy sound but only a little bit. On "Gold and Final," Warren's typical howl has relaxed to a bellow, and Kasai's guitar work makes those dexterous bass lines less audible.

It's like they've become more of a rock group and less of a metal band. Warren's booming bass is still there (it's particularly audible on the roaring "Cats, Mice"), but the spotlight has shifted to guitar. Kasai's squealing guitar flourishes supplement the boisterous low tones of "I Got It Online," while the staggering energy of "Found Art" shows a cohesive new three-instrument sound.

Over its nearly nine-minute duration, the album closer "Theme From Big Business" changes from a pulsing drone to a heavy-rock melody to a faint guitar murmur. The shape-shifting shows that although Big Business might not have ironed out all the kinks in its new sound, it certainly hasn't lost its noisy edge.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 1 May 2009, Page WE08
.: Mind the Drift on