Big kettle drum. Derivative in a healthy way, this cohesive band delivers a very solid set of riffy, slide-based and banjo-enhanced rock

Label: Independent (
Time: 10 Tracks / 39 minutes

Sometimes it is enjoyable to identify the original sounds that a release reminds you of. At other times, there are just too many of them. Big Kettle Drum give the impression of a band who grew up with their parents' ‘70s blues-rock albums and fell in love with the sound.

So let's get the names out of the way. They have the lead slide guitar sound of Jo Jo Gunne and are close cousins to several hundred ‘70s bar bands. The muscular bass and some of the occasional acoustic guitar work have the feel of an American version of Free. Vocalist Brent Menswar reminds me of Magdallan’s Ken Tamplin or even Ronnie James Dio (especially in “Clean” and “Blind”) so you know that you get a really authentic, no-holds-barred rock sound.

As well as a genuine grittiness, I like some of the sonic touches, such as the violin-like high guitar work in “Ordinary Life” and the way that banjo enhances the riffs in “Too Late.” Half-way through they change the mood entirely with their banjo-infused version of the public domain song “Talk About Suffering.” Frequently, they bring in touches of Americana.

With songs that start off talking about bad girls and feeling ordinary, then end up with baptism and looking for God, there is a strong range of topics covered, making it accessible for all. It’s not complicated music, but it is very strong on tunes.

This very solid set is a grower, but you don’t have take my word for it, when (at the time of writing) you can hear the whole thing at Remember to give it several listens. You may also want to check out the new EP due out in March 2013.

Derek Walker

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