America is in the midst of a funk revival and no place is currently funkier than Middlebury, Vermont. Home to The Big Sip, this town has helped the quartet grow their sound since they met on the Middlebury College campus in 2016. With Evan Mercer on the drums, Jack Cattabiani on the bass, Nick Schrope on the keys and Matt Dienar tackling the vocals and guitar, it’s easy to see why they have gained such popularity over the last two years.
This past June, The Big Sip unveiled their 2nd release, Sip Responsibly, their follow-up to 2017’s debut EP, Music for Clapping. This fantastic album starts with an immediate gem titled “The Worst of It”. On the first listen, the Elton John and Zappa influences drip out of the speakers but that similarity doesn’t do the track justice. This bubbly lounge song grows on you immediately with its slow crawling groove and sharp beat.
Following this is “Midnight Snek”, which sounds like a track from Sonic Spinball, my favorite 1993 Genesis game. When the band plays together, it’s organized cacophony with the guitarist’s high notes bringing the track to a whole new level. This song is very fun in a Richard Cheese kind of way and has a plucky solo to end the jam in this track. Jack really sets the stage for the third track, “Skucking Funks” with his infectious bass line. Matt balances the vocals incredibly well with his guitar in this song and Nick’s synthy goodness is really apparent in the chorus. Overall this song has a rhythm to it that immediately gets stuck in your head as soon as you hit ‘Play’.
The second half of the album begins with “Parking in the Parking Lot”, which takes the mood down a notch with its soulful verses and emotional chorus. The guitar in the intro sounds like rays of sunshine peeking through the clouds while the beat drifts along like a summer breeze. The jam in this song is equally impressive when it takes a little walk, building up more and more before shimmering and diving back into the vocals again.
“Two Hips / One Night” starts off with some spooky synthesizer before the band kicks into the groove you’ve come to expect with this album. This song has a lovely mix of different styles and also features a spectacular saxophone solo from Jack to end the track.
The Big Sip concludes this album with a truly magical rendition of “Valerie”, the Amy Winehouse classic hit. The track itself starts off slow and unassuming with a lovely organ solo but grows as the first verse unfolds into the famous chorus. For a band that started out covering Vulfpeck tracks, it’s really nice to see them return to form with a cover of this caliber.
Sip Responsibly is a magnificent release from the Big Sip and an impressive follow-up to last year’s debut EP. Do your ears a favor and check them out on Bandcamp.
Key Tracks: The Worst of It, Midnight Snek