Big Deal is an indie pop band from London. They formed in 2010 as the duo of Londoner Alice Costelloe and Californian Kacey Underwood. On their first record, they were vaguely dream-pop, vaguely psych-rock, vaguely indie-folk. Some sort of blend of Mojave 3 and Mazzy Star. The new record marks a big change for the band. They’ve brought in a bassist and a drummer. They’ve fuzzed out their sound. It’s a big, boisterous, shoe-gazey sound.
The Big Deal story is a pretty strange and cinematic one. Costelloe grew up in a musical household in London while Underwood grew up in a strict religious household in the California desert. While Costelloe’s family did everything to encourage her to play, Underwood had to clandestinely teach himself to play on a guitar that he found hidden under his brother’s bed. A few years later, he was working as a guitar tech for Dick Dale. A few years after that, he was at Cambridge University in London. A little bit later, he was teaching music at a girls’ academy. It was there that he met Costelloe’s mother. The mother encouraged Alice to take some lessons from Kacey, and the two became fast and inseparable friends. But not, apparently, a couple. They almost immediately formed a musical partnership. They wrote a bunch of songs and played a bunch of gigs and they generated a good deal of buzz before they even released a record. They impressed a lot of people with their debut album Lights Out in January of 2011.
I had never heard of Big Deal until I got something in the mailbag a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, I spent the first three weeks of December neglecting the mailbag. So when I did the mailbag maintenance the other day, I found some real gems in there. Tonight’s song is one of those gems. And it’s got me pretty excited for the title forthcoming sophomore record.
Although no details are available, this teaser in the form of the first single is pretty amazing.
“Teradactol” by Big Deal
For a band that didn’t have drums at all on their first record, they went in an opposite and distant direction with this. These drums, especially right at the drop, are thunderous. There’s nothing subdued or understated about this. There’s a lot to be said for the sparsity and simplicity and lack of moving parts that made Lights Out a great record. And there’s nothing at all wrong with what they’ve done. I’m a huge fan of the retro-1990s wall-of-sound thing that they’ve clung on to here.
I decided at 0:07 that I liked this song. I decided at 0:28-0:34 that I really liked the song after hearing their back-and forth tradeoff of the first vocal lines. At 0:58, it kind of dies down a bit. All of the instruments drop out, and they have a nice a capella vocal harmony moment. When the hammer comes down at 1:02, and the wave of sound crashes over me, that’s when I fell completely in love with the song. There are seven more occurrences of the mini-break/tidal wave, and I love it each time. There’s a burst of three of them in a 20-second span, and then later a burst of four in a 25-second span.
Incidentally, they refer to this song as “a squalling monster of sound”. I’ll buy that. For the record, it also looks like they were initially going to call this “Pterodactyl”, but opted for the intentional misspelling. I don’t know what that’s about, but it’s on purpose.
The band says that you should listen to this song “in a hot tub on a rollercoaster somewhere in Iceland with the Northern Lights in the sky”. I would certainly do that, but it’s not an option. As an alternate, they suggest listening to it in bed.
For fun, here’s the video for the song:
This is one of my favorite things from the mailbag all year long. Because of my reaction to it, (and because there are one or two sonic similarities), I’m reminded of when I got “The Shades of Cottage Grove” by Secret Cove from the mail bag. I strongly recommend revisiting that post and the fantastic song. Just like “…Cottage Grove”, when I listen to tonight’s song, I end up listening many times in a row. I just can’t get enough of it.
I wish that I had more information about the forthcoming album. No title. No release date. Just this brilliant teaser. In the meantime, you should buy their first record, which is really minimalistic by comparison. Get it in physical form directly from their label here.
As always, I always welcome submissions to the electronic and physical mail bags. Click on the “mail bag” tab above for details.