Bigbang
"From Acid to Zen"

(Grand Sport 2008)Bigbang - From Acid to Zen

Power trio Bigbang has been rocking their home country of Norway for almost ten years, earning two Scandinavian #1 albums and sharing festival stages with the likes of the Who, Flaming Lips, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Last September the band moved to Los Angeles, attempting to gain some traction in the US market. After playing for crowds of 20,000 back home, paying their dues Stateside was a step in a different direction, but their new album and a reputation for energetic over-the-top live shows has helped them gather momentum since arriving a year ago.

Upon first listening, I guessed Bigbang was from Kentucky or Georgia. It was a bit unnerving to hear Norwegians with such a perfect grasp of Americana grittiness and wanderlust. Some may take issue with the consistent evocation of America and Tom Petty (think Damn The Torpedoes), but the album still feels original in every way. Instead of just saluting the masters of the genre, Bigbang takes the youthful energy of a new generation and breathes new life into the music. "My First Time" is perfect road trip music that propels itself forward with a sound that's sweet and tough at the same time. "Saturn Freeway" sports a chorus that could be straight out of the Allman Brothers' "Eat A Peach," and "Hurricane Boy" rocks a carefree trail of blazing guitars and run-away drumming. The songs are all solid, quality pieces, guided by lead singer and guitarist Øystein Greni. His vocal stylings carry the album: he brings the wizened storytelling of Tom Petty, the high honeyed growl of Paul McCartney, and the raw energy of Roger Daltry.

Greni described "From Acid to Zen" as being "melancholic without being nerdy and powerful without being macho." I really couldn't have put it better myself - the album fires on all cylinders: great production, expressive songwriting, and plenty of rough, gritty beauty. The big question is whether the band's influences are too obvious for the taste of the American public. If you're unable to set aside the obvious influences of Tom Petty, America, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bigbang's music won't float your boat. However, if you enjoy quality rock and roll that's as honest and powerful as it gets, grab this album now - it won't leave your CD player for weeks.

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