Bruise Reviews: Bigwig - Reclamation

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2006 Fearless Records

 It's abundantly obvious someone has lit a fire under Bigwig's asses. Maybe it was the "administration" and their all out disregard for the country, its people and laws. Or maybe it was the recent change in line-up (with Jeff taking over on lead guitar). Whatever the case, the New Jersey punkers are red hot with political fury and fiery metal riffs on their 4th album to date, Reclamation. And they should be considering the nearly 5 year void since their last album Invitation to Tragedy left fans burning for more.

 Seemingly since they broke on the scene, Bigwig has been one of the most unfairly underrated and overlooked bands. Often dismissed in a ramble of other bands (i.e. "They sound like NOFX, or Strung Out"), all that's about to change. 2006 finds the crew as a more mature and tighter group, fueled by a lyrical depth, technical proficiency and broad spectrum of influence (most notably those metal riffs I was talking about that seemingly give the album it's driving force). Reclamation is largely political and the opener A War Inside is no exception. Bigwig's patented power-pop-punk, aggressive-yet-catchy sound permeates the tune and sets the album off at a blistering pace that doesn't let up until the 6th track Rat Race. A mid-tempo song with a very familiar sound, yet unique enough that it will keep generalizations at bay. Reclamation then immediately resumes it's fireball pace. Last Song, Last Call floats into a ska-meets-hardcore anthem for those of us who remember when it was nearly illegal to be a punk rocker. The days when the police, for any reason they could find (see noise ordinances, underage drinking, fire code, etc) would shut down mom & pop venues while an army of officers armed with batons and mace waited outside with the paddy wagon to cart away "unruly punks".  I could go on for years singing praises of this album, but the bottom line is Reclamation kicks ass.

 It seems every band that's stood the test of time has an album where they turn the corner to achieve greatness. Reclamation is just that album for Bigwig. Hopefully we won't have to wait 5 more years for the follow up.
                                           
                                                         

Bruise Reviews: Nicotine - Session

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 Asian Man Records  2005


 Never has a band's name been so right on the money as  Nicotine's. Much like their namesake, they are highly addictive and habit forming. However, probably not as bad for your health. Unless of course your bullheaded friends kick your ass for listening to pop-punk.

 Emerging all the way from the Land of the Rising Sun, this 4 piece from Chiba, Japan, have done their homework on making catchy pop-punk tunes. Although often times compared to NOFX, I'd say they sound more along the lines of early MXPX or   The Mr. T Experience. That's not to say Nicotine doesn't have a sound uniquely their own. Session, Nicotine's 3rd album on Asian Man Records (I'm sure they have more, but the majority of their website is in Japanese), is a refreshingly original romp on the lighter side of the punk rock spectrum. At first listen, lead man Howie's vocals may have been a little softer than an old haggard punk like myself may be accustomed to, but Session seems to keep making its way back into my stereo. Although the album as a whole is brimming with memorable tunes, I admit the track Tree of the Sun has got me hooked. It's Asian inspired melody is a breath of fresh air, bringing to mind the Dropkick Murphys and the way they touch on the sound of old Irish folk music. And we all could use a little variety on our musical palate in this day of commercialized artistic expression.
Notable appearances include production credits going to The Vandal's Warren "Mutant Boy" Fitzgerald and guest vocals by members of Guttermouth, Death By Stereo & New Found Glory.

 All that aside, Session stands on it's own two feet and is definitely worth checking out. Just consider yourself forewarned, if you pick up Nicotine now, you may not be able to put them down.
                                                            


 Check out the Website for yourself- http://www.skyrecords.co.jp/nicotine/main.html