Saturday, November 5, 2011

40 Songs, 40 Days (2011 Edition), Day Twenty Eight: The Insane Girl by Big Dipper

And now it's time to delve once again into the Bands Tom Loves That No Longer Exist File (although I need to move them out of that file), and the Bands That Died In The Great 90's Signing Frenzy...although this one has had a little more fame.

Big Dipper was something of a mini-supergroup, being formed from members of Boston bands The Volcano Suns, The Embarrassment and Dumptruck. I first encountered them at the old Ritz, opening for--I think--Oingo Boingo (it's kind of hard to remember exactly when you're rapidly becoming more salt than pepper in the hair department), and I was instantly taken by their strange, quirky lyrics, reverb heavy guitars and eccentric vocal stylings. I scoured the used record stores of Greenwich Village to locate their three albums, which I did at, of all places, the old 4th Street Tower Records.

Sadly, though, Big Dipper was one of the many, many many indie bands that found themselves snatched up by a major label in the wake of the overwhelming success of Nirvana's Nevermind. And, like such bands I discussed before like Tribe and Harvey Danger, Big Dipper put out one album with Epic Records, Slam, and promptly broke up when Epic dropped them over poor album sales. Thankfully, in 2008 Merge Records put out Supercluster: A Big Dipper Anthology, which featured not only highlights from their three indie albums, but the songs that would have become their second album with Epic, A Very Loud Array.

"Insane Girl" doesn't quite have the humor that I felt marked many of the band's best works (those that cringe when humor in music is brought up shouldn't worry; this is a much darker strain)--but to be fair, a lot of the songs from Craps, their third album, leaned more toward the soberer part of the spectrum. I love how in much of Big Dipper's work there's a sense of ominous foreboding, like something bad is just on the horizon. Even when the song is as innocuous as this one, depicting the universal problem of struggling with a girlfriend who may, quite frankly, be off her rocker emotionally, the bass line and the apocalyptic drum playing makes it clear that this relationship may get worse before it gets better.

Thankfully, Big Dipper reformed around the time of Supercollider's release, and continue to perform together to this day. Hell, they've got a song on the soundtrack to the new indie comedy Loser Takes All...about a group that gets together in a way that's suspiciously similar to the way Big Dipper formed way back when! You can even be their friends on Facebook. Lord knows I am!

Here is the song in question--

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