The first studio album from The Boxing Lesson in five years, Big Hits!, will grab your attention and demand that it become the soundtrack for your 2013 summer. It’s breezy, it’s bluesy, it’s full of great and danceable beats, and each of the songs are undeniably catchy in their own way. From “Sweet Science” to “Health is the New Drug,” each track will have you tapping your toes and bobbing your head.
“Endless Possibilities” (a very appropriate title for the track) opens with a simple groove in a relaxed pace that gets deeper as the song progresses, adding layers of keyboards and horns as it goes along. Eventually the vocals come in, sounding mournful at first – laid next to the wail of an extended guitar solo that conveys both grief as well as hope. But the tempo is immediately taken up a notch for track two, “Eastside Possibilities” – an ode to Austin, Texas that is pure rock and roll. “Red River Blues” also pays homage to our city.
My two personal favorite tracks, however, are “Better Daze” and “Tape Deck Time Machine.” The latter ends up being one of the more aggressive sounding songs on the record, and seems to me to be the sound an 80’s new wave band would make if they had been marooned in the Texas desert for a while. “Better Daze” is a very catchy, uptempo track, short and sweet but making a lasting impression. It’s the song that makes me want to dance the most, though it’s a tough call to make since so many of the tracks on the album fuel this desire. Big Hits! is a very good release from one of Austin’s longest-lasting and best-known bands. Overall, it’s less spacey than their previous recordings, but retains the same psychedelic feel combined with the utmost of grooviness.
Not only does Big Hits! rock on record, but it also translates live very well. Paul Waclawsky leads the troops on lead vocals and guitar, stomping his feet and grinning from ear to ear the entire time he plays. You can really tell how much he enjoys playing with his bandmates Jaylinn Davidson and Ben Redman. Davidson tickles the keys and both adds the depth of a bass sound as well as helps to bring the spacey, psychedelic-alien sounds the band is well known for (alongside Waclawsky’s guitar pedal effects).
Redman is perhaps the most enchanting on-stage, due – admittedly – to his youth. Redman is only 14 years old, and yet he plays the drums with the skill and force of drummers twice his age or more. The last time I saw The Boxing Lesson was at their early May Pecan Street Festival performance. Their summery, breezy songs matching the bright and sunny weather we had on Cinco de Mayo, and yet, the previous time I attended a Boxing Lesson show, it was drizzling outside late at night while they rocked the stage inside with a dark and dreamy atmosphere aided by a psychedelic light show.
The Boxing Lesson are well known around town for a reason: they always put on a show not to be missed. Make sure you hit up their Big Hits! album release party on Thursday, May 16th at the Mohawk. Obscured by Echoes opens at 10pm, Megafauna plays at 11, and The Boxing Lesson takes the stage at midnight. And while you’re at it, pick up a copy of Big Hits! at the release party or at your local record store!
– Brittany Bartos