Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blown Back Open: Big Wreck

Clockwise from bottom left: IME (the originals), TEB,
Bush and those rebellious Everclear men
I must say, back in my youth (and by youth I mean elementary school), I was a proud and devoted follower of the 1990s alt-rock movement. Mind you, I didn't look or act the part of a rock n' roll obsessed rebellious child - I also had a healthy dose of Britney and choreographed solo recitals in my living room throughout these years. But nonetheless, I just loved the challenge these rock groups presented to the Clive Davis creations, the MuchMusic weekend countdowns, the outrageous amount of Big Shiny Tunes albums, and of course, I have a feeling my pre-pubescent self didn't mind the dreamy male fronts. The thing about those days and many eras before ours now is that the overplayed rock music wasn't generic or meaningless (cough, Nickelback and Theory of a Deadman). The music meant something and the overplayed nature of the songs wasn't tedious because similar to the 1970s when songs like "Let it Be" and "American Woman" ruled the radio, it was appreciated by most.

To get back to the point, it was and still is hard to believe that some of my childhood favourites like I Mother Earth (both singers), Everclear, Third Eye Blind, Bush and Garbage are now nothing but a faint and outdated memory. For the most part, these former rock powerhouses have faded into the background, or remain only in the fine-print writing of a dusty 1998 Summersault Festival flyer.

One of the bands I grew up admiring most was Big Wreck. I absolutely loved this band. Lead singer Ian Thornley had an unbelievable set of pipes, and released a few fairly memorable and dynamic rock singles. He made wise vocal decisions - knowing when to let his vibrado dance smoothly with the electric guitars and when to attack with his powerful range and natural-born rock talent. Watching any live footage of this guy, I find it quite baffling that his mature talent and ear for melodic brilliance maybe wasn't always appreciated as much as it should have been.

Probably the band's best musical moment was the grandiose and moving "Blown Wide Open", off In Loving Memory (Um, hello. The deep-v-neck Thornley wears in the video? Ahead of his time). This song possesses every ingredient to make a spine-tingling and reflective listening experience for everyone. The single, about burying baggage beneath a facade before it becomes undeniable and exposed, really shakes your core with it's melancholic build-up and soulful instrumentals. The song starts slow, with Thornley's voice drifting around the pleasantly-redundant message. After the bridge, the instruments, vocals and lyrics boil to a head and explode with Thornley's chants passionately conducting the profound finale to the song. That building guitar in the middle eight, man - that's something else. To this day.

So, while it may have been from the 90s, but unlike my Paul Frank shirts and pog collection, I refuse to retire this song.

"And I walk out the door/ Get blown wide open by the things I'd put away/ And I wasn't even warned/ Just blown wide open, now the mess is where I lay."

1 comment:

  1. Great review. I still write about Thornley and some of his new stuff here occasionally. It's been a while. Life and all.

    Thought you might like to waste few hours or so.