Posted on May 27th, 2014 (10:00 am) by Theresa Flanagan

You know when a song reminds you so strongly of something else, but you just can't quite figure out what? I'll probably be bolting awake sometime later this week with the realization of what exactly "Big Weather I" is making me think of. It's the first track off of 1,2,3's ambitious double LP titled Big Weather. With the vastly varied influences that frontman Nic Snyder pulls into their sophomore release, the twenty tracks are all over the place. The theme that pulls them together is disasters, particular those of the natural variety.

Following the release of their debut New Heaven in 2011, 1,2,3 went through a serious rough patch. In the process of getting this record together they broke up when Snyder bowed out briefly before gathering the band together, and were dropped by Frenchkiss Records, along with their management and booking agencies. The quartet ended up setting up their own record label, American Hermitage, in order to release Big Weather.

The double album is meant to be listened to all in one go, a significant time commitment at just under eighty minutes all told. While we're not all that inclined to repeat it, it's definitely an experience. When the artists have so obviously thrown so much of themselves into a production, it is incredibly hard to criticize the outcome. Big Weather is no exception. Snyder puts it best: "This album is undoubtedly ridden with flaws, but so are its creators, and the circumstances under which it was created." Flaws though there may be, there is a plenty of good stuff going on throughout Big Weather.

Particular influences on Snyder for Big Weather included strange and severe weather patterns, like the tornado that destroyed his aunt's house in Pennsylvania, and '70s dystopian movies. There's a definite apocalyptic bent to it all, which is especially obvious in the two spoken word tracks. "Waiting For The Horsemen" and "In The House Of The Locust" both tell ominous tales that wouldn't be out of place alongside a couple by Edgar Allan Poe, with some modern twists.

The other tracks meander through garage rock, psych, folky Americana, crunchy pop, and everything in between. Big Weather was recorded in Snyder's basement studio, using beat up old guitars, bass and percussion, with primitive recording gear. This is the sound of a band following through on their vision. If every single moment of the outcome isn't completely compelling, the overall result is. We may have to take back the whole not so inclined to listen to the whole thing more than once. It's an experience worth repeating, at the very least to figure out which pieces to take with you.

Big Weather is the kind of record you just have to listen to for yourself. Partly because it's such a labor of love that it deserves a listen for that reason alone, partly because it's all over the place but still completely connected. As stormy as both the process and inspiration for Big Weather were, the record itself emerges tried and tested. You can order the vinyl edition and get a digital copy free on 1,2,3's own label American Hermitage's website. According to the group's Facebook, the digital form will be available for pay what you want as well. You can check it out streaming in full over on Soundcloud.

Oh, and it is John Cougar Mellencamp's "Jack & Diane" that "Big Weather I" is so immediately reminiscent of. However, it doesn't take very long to become a very different song. I'm glad I got that one figured out before it drove me too crazy.

Track List

  1. Big Weather I
  2. Leave Me In The Sky With The Lawn Chair
  3. Pontoon Song
  4. Waiting For The Horsemen
  5. Mile High Grass
  6. Bus To Babylon
  7. Refusal Bop
  8. The Shapes Of Wrath
  9. Fear/Pure Elevation
  10. Rebuilding
  11. Stone Haus
  12. Porch Swing Song
  13. Big Black Car
  14. Big Weather II
  15. In The House Of The Locust
  16. When The Levee Broke At The County Fair
  17. Strawberry
  18. Faith Hill
  19. Where We Lived
  20. Sick Of The End
1,2,3: Big Weather
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

73 / 100
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