Solid foundation

A promising debut from Big Tall Buildings
By CHRIS CONTI  |  July 29, 2009

big tall main

When Big Tall Buildings guitarist Jared Mann sent in a disc of six demos earlier this year, the raw potential behind songs "Natalie" and "Something with a Semicolon" had me dropping monthly emails on him with the subject header "WHERE'S THE ALBUM?" The final product was well worth the wait, as the full-length Abandon Me Please is resplendent with baroque indie-pop sing-along hooks in the spirit of Modest Mouse and Broken Social Scene in particular. Abandon Me Please will be available this weekend at two BTB shows at the Wheelhouse and the Common Pub (always a good time). The disc will also be available at MySpace.com/TheBigTallBuildings.

Mann acknowledged Broken Social Scene as in influence while recording the album, along with indie-dreamo acts like Pedro the Lion and Jets To Brazil. Mann's older brother guided him toward newfound favorites — "I'm listening to a lot of Jawbreaker and the Afghan Whigs lately," he said — which is a good start considering these dudes can't even buy their own beer yet, ranging from 18 to 20 years old. The album was recorded at Mann's Blanketfort Studio, and they decided to mix and master it without outside assistance. The six-man collective from North Smithfield — Alex Yontz (vocals/ukulele), Trevor Scarboro (drums), Taylor Archambault (keys, percussion), Andrew Fortin (bass), Evan Mrva (trumpet, accordion), and Mann on guitar and backup vocals — have been friends since childhood. I asked how difficult it was to manage a half-dozen ideas circulating through the studio.

"Everyone has their specific roles and we all respect each other's opinions," Mann told me earlier this week. "We'll just kind of throw our song ideas at one another, take a basic idea and build on it. It's a comfortable songwriting environment.

"The album alone took a year to write and record, and getting the songs right where we wanted them sound-wise was very stressful," Mann recalled. "There's a point when you want to move on to new songs, and you want to just get the album done and out there."

As for the album's title and its steady theme of love and loss (ahh, to be young in love again), Mann says Abandon Me Please was forged by real-life breakups during the lengthy recording process.

"Most of the album focuses on past relationships from some of the band members," Mann said. "Through the writing process, these particular relationships fell apart and became a recurring theme throughout. The title is more or less an ironic statement towards that."

The result is an organic, summer-fling soundtrack. Standout tracks "Darling, Keep Your Teeth Together," "Xmas Steve," and the BSS-stylings of "Summer Rush" and "Epic" have come a long way from the demos. The opener "Natalie" is a two-and-a-half minute gem, and perfectly encapsulates the Big Tall Buildings style. Although guest vocalist Chelsea Figuerido is not considered a core member of the band, she steals the show on "Something with a Semicolon." The added percussion and accordion brings the track beautifully to life behind Figuerido's ethereal vocals and Mann's jangly riffs, complete with a hook too sugary-sweet to resist. Hell, even the gruffest of barfly fixtures at the Common Pub may be inclined to hit the dance floor when they hear the sing-along chorus and swirling keys in the finale on "Semicolon."

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