Coming from the same are that gave us Lynyrd Skynyrd, Big Engine is bound to make that classic Southern rock band proud. The best I can tell the core of the band, Tony Mikus (lv,g) and Hans Oellerich (g,bv), have been developing Big Engine for 20 years or so, and recording albums since 2002. With Shot Like A Rocket, they've cut five albums to date.
To be clear, several of the songs here have appeared on previous albums including Party Like A Rock Star, That Girl's A Freak, Sister Mary, by example. But it's all good. These songs are some of Big Engine's best. The songs also are representative of Big Engine's style: genuine American classic rock, with more than country hard rock flair, most notable in Oellerich's guitar. It can have that so-called country 'twang' without having that normal slippery steely whistle of Nashville country. In some sense, he plays guitar like Keith Urban, so to speak, having a foot in the country venue and a toe in classic hard rock. But with Oellerich it seems, mostly, reversed.
Fundamentally, what we're getting at is that Big Engine is a 'rock' band, a band where that hard rock groove is the foundation. Listening to Burn It Down, Turn It On, I'm Ready Let's Go, or Shot Like A Rocket toe-tapping groove is at a premium, as much as hooks and melody. Through in some damn catchy refrains and you got tunes equally positive for busting a bar, bringing down the house and blowing out some bikers at Sturgis or, if this were 1983, likely filling up arenas.
Now throw in some of Southern sweetness with the ballads No More Time, Not Your Fool, or the bluesy Sister Mary, and the humorous double entendre Southern swagger of Nice Sass, and things get mighty interesting and entertaining. Honestly, excepting maybe No Money which didn't quite catch on with me, every song here is solid stuff. This sturdy, keg busting, and shot downing American rock, and a whole lot of fun. I can't imagine not having a good time at a Big Engine show.
As an aside, all this makes me wonder, returning to the subtle snub above, why the auto-tuned Nashville oligarchs haven't shown some interest in the band. After all country and country rock is the fastest growing music genre in America. Big Engine could easily be contenders both worlds, rock and country. Certainly, Nice Sass, likely the most modern country rock song here could capture the heart of country fans. Alas, it's a strange world. But you'll dig this album. Get it and party like a rock star.
With Shot Like A Rocket, Big Engine lights a new fire in the classic Southern rock tradition with an ambitious and entertaining album of great songs.
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