Big French - Downtown Runnin


Big French - Downtown Runnin

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Downtown Runnin                                                                                           Wharf Cat Records


In 2013 it’s easy to find a band espousing a “punk” aesthetics; less so a band whose creative modus operandi is to apply that kind of uninhibited and spiritually combative aesthetics to the songwriting process, without a nod to the “sound” and pageantry of the ostensible contemporary vanguard.

Big French is that band. Their first full-length, Downtown Runnin, consists of eighteen short songs that burn out before becoming rote. Unmoored in the zeitgeist, the band covers a wide variety of material, from structurally complex power ballads (“Would Not Try”, “Downtown Runnin”) to dreamy smears (“Atlanta”, “Whale”), heavier postpunk (“Ungungungungone”), and arcade prog (“Payback”). As the album rushes through its short duration, notes of disparate influences appear briefly, subsumed by the next; Big French is loath to sit still, whether stylistically, harmonically or in attitude.

Quentin Moore wrote Downtown Runnin in Germantown, New York in 2011 and 2012. A dynamic crew of close associates was recruited, including drummer Jo Miller-Gamble (Great Valley) and keyboardist Zach Phillips (Blanche Blanche Blanche), and Downtown Runnin was recorded in a series of sessions at Mike Kutchman’s (Ancient Sky) Kutch 1 studio in Greenpoint. The album was recorded with minimal overdubbing and engineered intervention.

The first thing any Big French listener will notice is Moore’s unconventional vocal counterpoint, less Tiny Tim falsetto than piccolo guitar. It’s no gimmick, or the mark of a castrato; Moore is simply a strange individual, known to Germantown’s residents as the “Mahogany Man” for his bizarre wooden attire. And the landscape of Downtown Runnin, with its cascading hills and fields of sundry heirloom melodies, is the Mahogany Man’s ideal environment. With Moore’s voice at the helm, band’s spasmodic chops and bent coordination speak louder than words. Big French, Downtown Runnin, Wharf Cat Records, 2013.

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