Hearing Aide: Big Something’s ‘The Otherside’

While April 20 tends to be a day known for celebrating greener lifestyles and festivities, for Big Something, it will notch the release and celebration of their latest studio album, The Otherside.

Tucking away their fifth studio effort, the North Carolina 6-piece offers Big Something fanatics a piggy-back off of last year’s Tumbleweed. Thumbing listeners through an encyclopedia of genres, the 2018 release continues the haunting narrative of wandering through the depths of a post-apocalyptic desert while undergoing some serious soul searching, hoping to come out of the clutches of a bad peyote trip. Unable to place the album’s pulse on one particular sound, the sonic exploration allows focus to be placed on the group’s unfolding concept instead.

The first few notes of “Sundown Nomad” welcome Big Something fans to their familiar, glitchy EWI sounds before diving into a land of spoken word trip-hop. As the eight-track album continues, “Wildfire” follows as a feel-good tune paired with less than hopeful lyrics, repeatedly exclaiming “woe is me.” The tight-knit ensemble of Nick MacDaniels (guitar, vocals), Doug Marshall (bass), Josh Kagel (keys, trumpet), Casey Cranford (sax, EWI), Jesse Hensley (lead guitar), and Ben Vinograd (drums) play with poetic juxtaposition on this track, while the uplifting riffs seem blissful, the lyrics divergently describe one thousand acres burning to the ground and the world going up in a wildfire.

“We wanted to pay homage to the original concept of ‘an album’ with this release where sitting down and listening to the whole thing is an experience – 20 minutes per side with a break between. Side A complements Side B. This is the first time we’ve setup an album to fit perfectly on a vinyl record like that,” vocalist Nick MacDaniels shared.

“The Cave” offers a more emotional outlet through Daniels’ heart-rendering vocals and slower time signatures while the album’s title track, “The Otherside,” takes shape of a fleeting 1:47 ambient break in the midst of the album. “Smoke Signal,” a track specifically written for the album and yet to receive the live debut treatment, holds it’s own as a silky smooth jazz track, with a combination of velvety vocals and saxophone. Most tracks are given a new life through Big Something live performances. It’s a wonder what they’ll do with “Smoke Signal” for its first time in front of a live audience.

Cranford’s EWI majesty helps “Cosmic Dust” tap into 80s synth- Stranger Things theme song elements before the last two tracks showcase the groups funk and hard rock in its finest form. With the help of groovy trumpets and top-notch shredding on guitar, the album finds its fastest and strongest notes at a pinnacle of high-energy upon its conclusion.

The powerhouse rockers found their voices through storytelling and fusing unique elements together to wrap up the story they’ve been telling since their 2017 predecessor album. Creating another layer of emotion folded into the album, it’s dedicated to the memory of Paul Interdonato, the band’s late lyricist and friend who tragically passed away on December 3, 2017 – the same exact day the band was gearing up to record in studio.

The Otherside takes on thematics of musical journeys in more ways than one– the story of the album’s troubled, vagabond protagonist as well as a touching tribute of inspiration from a lifelong friend.

Key Tracks: Smoke Signal, Cosmic Dust, Hole