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Video of the Moment #2175: Big Deal (RIP)

 
By on Friday, 2nd September 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

I don’t think anyone saw this coming, especially on the back of a new album released this summer. Big Deal announced yesterday that they were breaking up. It’s unclear why the band, led by Kacey Underwood and Alice Costelloe, would choose now to dissolve, especially off the back of their third album ‘Say Yes’, unveiled on Fat Cat Records in June. (You can read Adam’s review of the album back here.) As if they knew they needed an appropriate parting gesture, they revealed the promo video for ‘Idyllwild’, though I guess the word ‘promo’ is the wrong word to use in this case. We wish the band well. To reminisce and read our past coverage on Big Deal, follow this link.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ol_BYajtPAY[/youtube]

 

Album Review: Big Deal – Say Yes

 
By on Monday, 18th July 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Big Deal Say Yes cover‘Say Yes’, Big Deal third album, was released in mid-June on Fat Cat Records. Unfortunately for the transatlantic duo, it wasn’t easy getting to that point. They ran into many complications along the way, one of which involved Kacey Underwood having his laptop, filled with demos, stolen from his apartment. They had also split from their previous label Mute, which meant they had to borrow money to self-fund their new album. In this respect, the new record stands for a lot to Big Deal, to such an extent that when asked about it, they explain “it is about taking all kinds of heartbreak and defeat, and just looking at it dead in the eye and going for it.”

Big Deal essentially began in London in 2010 when Kacey Underwood taught Alice Costelloe some songs on guitar. Prior to ‘Say Yes’, they released two studio albums via indie record label Mute: ‘Lights Out’ in 2011, followed by ‘June Gloom’ in 2013. Costelloe says, “‘Lights Out’ is about not being together, ‘June Gloom’ is about being together and ‘Say Yes’ is about breaking up and trying to make sense of it all.” With such a depiction of an ever-meandering relationship in mind, one can really get a grasp on how the duo set out to portray this in the album. One aspect in particular is the complete utilisation of bassist Jesse Wong and drummer Jessica Batour, whom together bring the album a whole new level of attitude.

The album’s opening tracks ‘Hold Your Fire’ and ‘Avalanche’ showcase Wong and Batour perfectly; the monstrous drum sound and aggressive guitar riffs, doubled on bass throw you right into the deep end, and in a way that represent the struggles the band had experienced with the album and how they overcame them. The dynamic fluctuations and expressive vocal melodies in each meandering section together paint a sonic picture of a break-up, taking you through the stages of grief, anger and confusion bubbling at the surface of those involved.

Following closely at the heels of ‘Avalanche’, and in keeping with the portrayal of problems, is album title track ‘Say Yes.’ The track focuses on the band’s determination to turn negatives into positives. It was fight or flight for the duo, and thank god they chose to fight. ‘Say Yes’ is an ode to Big Deal’s ambition and strive to pull themselves out of the slump. Led primarily by Costelloe’s vocal performance and lyrics, the track gives us a look into what the couple was going through in their moment at professional life rock bottom. The jangly guitar line and accompanying open string chords don’t provide much substance within the verses. However, this works because the heavy hitter of the track is the most definitely the screeching, war cry of a chorus, propelling the message “I won’t tell you, won’t tell you / everything works out right.” Each chorus is emphasised further by the moments of tension that precede them, whether it’s a chord change to the 7th creating suspense before resolving, or dropping the guitars out completely and chanting lyrics like “I was ready, I was ready / are you ready, are you ready / just let it happen!”

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxejdjX3aGo[/youtube]

As the album moves into its middle stage, there is a gradual shift in emotion, from anger and aggression to somewhat sadness and disparity. It feels almost as if the band are taking a moment to step back and reflect on the events surrounding the making of the album, rather than attacking them head on as on earlier tracks. Songs like ‘Lux’ and ‘Veronica’ carry an overtone of said emotions,. However, the beguiling yet beautiful melodies within contradict these feelings, ultimately revealing the sense that the healing process has begun in this metaphorical breakup. ‘Kitty Pride’, with its upbeat tonality and nonstop bounce, marks a turning point for the band, in which they decide to pick themselves up and move on from the crumbling relationship. With lyrics “it’s not over / just starting over / we’ll get over / getting older” accompanying the catchy melody, it’s very hard to avoid the message the band are delivering.

The album winds down to a resting feeling of relaxation and accomplishment as it approaches its final few tracks. We also see a throwback to Big Deal’s roots when they were merely a guitar and voice duet, playing sweet yet gritty songs like ‘Talk’ and ‘Homework’. ‘Still My Dream’ and the album closer ‘Idyllwild’ replicate this period of their career very closely. ‘Idyllwild’ in particular is filled with emotion in every aspect. The key to this song is to wait and expect the unexpected, specifically approaching the 6-minute, 50-second mark. The verses carry a graceful blend between Costelloe and Underwood’s voices amongst the backdrop of delicate chords that plod along with a sense of safety. That is, until the chorus, when a huge wall of fuzz juxtaposes the previous feeling with one of pure disparity.

The duo have stated that they did everything backwards in terms of discovering themselves and developing their sound. However, how they got here doesn’t subtract from the fact that ‘Say Yes’ is Big Deal’s strongest release yet. If this is the direction in which they continue in, things are going to get very exciting.

7.5/10

Big Deal’s third album ‘Say Yes’ is out now on Fat Cat Records. For more of TGTF’s coverage on Big Deal, go here.

 

Video of the Moment #1560: Big Deal

 
By on Friday, 27th June 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

London duo Big Deal have a new promo video out for ‘Always Boys’, which appears on their upcoming EP ‘Sakura’. The EP drops on the 14th of July on Mute Records. Watch the video below.

Coverage on the duo on TGTF is all archived here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psmJr-I-YSE[/youtube]

 

Video of the Moment #1468: Big Deal

 
By on Tuesday, 11th March 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

Big Deal‘s latest promo video is for ‘Catch Up’, which appears on their LP from last year, ‘June Gloom’. What happens when you give a neglected child a magic kit? Find out by watching the video below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw3go7DcjOo[/youtube]

 

Single Review: Big Deal – Swapping Spit

 
By on Tuesday, 19th November 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

I don’t care for, nor have I really ever cared for boy/girl singing duos, or bands with male and female voices harmonising. This is an unfortunate position to be in as a music editor I suppose, since there seem to be so many of them right now! My guess, though, is that my lack of interest in them probably has to do with two things: my own vocal training as an alto, and the fact that I generally can’t stand women with those higher pitched, baby, Minnie Mouse-y voices. So I wondered why the latest single from Alice Costello and Kacey Underwood, aka Big Deal, affected me the way it did. Maybe it has subliminal messages hidden in it? If you listen to BBC 6music on a regular basis, you will understand when I say this song has been drilled into your consciousness over the last couple of weeks.

Along with ‘Teradactol’ released in December 2012 and March 2013’s ‘In Your Car’, ‘Swapping Spit’ is more evidence for anyone (especially for those who haven’t picked up their sophomore album ‘June Gloom’ yet) that the duo have decided to turn towards a harder edge than the one they began with on their 2011 debut ‘Lights Out’. Part of this is mechanical: the pair now have a bassist and drummer playing with them on recordings and live, so sonically, the entity of Big Deal can be and will be louder and more of an actual force of be reckoned with. In ‘Swapping Spit’, there are lovely muscular bass lines throughout as the melody chugs along and appropriately bright drum high hat hits during the chorus. So yay for that.

Upon further contemplation of this single, it dawned on me who the song reminded me of, with its washy guitars and gentle yet emotional lyrics: New York’s The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. The song begins by painting a scene of desolation in a parking lot (yes, Underwood is American, if you were wondering), a situation in which we find the lovers meeting and “we stay out after dark / we’re nowhere to be found / there’s no-one else around / there’s no one else to tell us we’re no good”. It’s not imagined; at least one of them (probably the voice that’s singing) is expressing the shame of what is about to transpire in a place where they’re so far removed from everyone and everything else.

I can’t find the lyrics to the song online, and the enunciation along with the lack of vocal clarity in the video isn’t great, so I had to guess at some of the other words. But the later phrases that were most interesting to me were “you feel it slip away, my heart is now my own, there’s no better way to go, there’s no better way to go”, followed by, “I thought I saw you shake following me home / I wanted you to know / I wanted you to spin the wheel again, swinging for the fence / what do I do, what do I do?” This seems to indicate to me that the plot is about mates who are ‘friends with benefits’, but one of them has fallen in love with the other person, and he/she is waiting for the other to make a grand pronouncement that the love is reciprocal. She wants to “give up giving in” to the act, repeating “I will, I will” as part of an emphatic declaration that will take her heart out of this mess. But it’s the worst kind of love. Unrequited love, with the first person being upset and trying to accept “all lovers swapping spit, I’ll get used to it” that nothing is going to happen beyond the physical sex that’s happening at this very moment. Heartbreaking, and in its sparseness of conveying so much emotion, it’s arguably the best track of ‘June Gloom’. Good job.

8.5/10

Both the single ‘Swapping Spit’ and the band’s second LP ‘June Gloom’ are now available from Big Deal’s label Mute Records.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzCyul0SLIs[/youtube]

 

Video of the Moment #1159: Big Deal

 
By on Wednesday, 27th March 2013 at 6:00 pm
 

Uhhh…this is the new video from Big Deal, and it’s nothing that I would have expected from the duo that brought us this video for ‘Talk’. It’s literal… but it’s also not. Watch it below.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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