Big Bad Rooster (from the album Rolling in the Bramble available on Coke N Waffles Records) Southern California embraces DIY attitudes in the music of string band Big Bad Rooster. Punk rock beats and sentiments are as much as part of the four-piece as guitar (Michael Solan), fiddle (Camilo Barahona), banjo (Gaspar Barahona), and upright bass (Tristan Cole-Falek). The title track barrels across Rolling in the Bramble, as the quartet double-time Dixieland strums for the good times in “Heart & Soul” while band namedropper “Big Bad Rooster” opens the album on hoots and bass thumps for its falsetto modern-day fairy tale. Rolling in the Bramble wraps strong-willed banjo notes around the confessional inspiration of “Turn It Around” and bids goodbye in the call/response harmonies of “Fare Thee Well” as Big Bad Rooster post some Blues into the Bluegrass of “Mailman” and feel the weight of the life and love balanced on “One Drop”.
-Danny McCloskey, The Alternate Root
Bluegrass has its roots in some of the oldest musical traditions of the United States and has long been a source of authentic story telling about rural life and working people. Though the genre has enjoyed a resurgence in interest as Americana music has regained some popularity, it can be difficult to find acts moving beyond old traditionals and pushing the genre into new territory. Thankfully, Long Beach, CA’s Big Bad Rooster are on the rise and available to please those ears looking for new flavor in a classic form. The band’s debut full-length album blends vibrant stories of modern life and contemporary struggles with an exciting style that will appeal to both purists and new-comers alike.
Delivering 10 songs in just under a half hour, Big Bad Rooster keeps their tempos fast and the energy high on their first release. The record pulls and flows quickly like a river with a strong current, yet the band always stays together and never once slips into sloppiness. In fact, the pacing of the album not only allows the band to show off their nimbleness and musical chops, it adds a fire and urgency to their music, keeping their recordings in lock-step with the power and heat of their live performances.
In addition to the quartet’s tenacity, skilled musicianship, and keen ear for wonderful vocal melodies and harmonies, the record has wonderfully full, immersive production that accentuates Big Bad Rooster’s sounds and style. Though the band produced and recorded the album all on their own, they manage to avoid so many of the pitfalls of home recordings by giving theirs more filled out, well balanced, and rich qualities, instead of opting for the more raw, lo-fi features of so many of their peers.
Most of all, what comes across so clearly on Big Bad Rooster’s debut is honesty and authenticity. There is soul and spirit in the band’s music that comes from deep within and can’t be taught or imitated. From even the first few seconds of the opening track, it’s easy to hear just how much of their honest selves the band puts into their music. It makes for an album that is captivating and easy to listen to from end to end.
All in all, the record is a solid debut for Big Bad Rooster, and hopefully just the beginning of what the band has in store.
-Simon Weedn, music writer, DJ, and host of Raw Power Hour.
Album Review for “Big Bad Rooster”
As gentle waves lap against the shore and big ships end their ocean voyages in the harbor, the music of Big Bad Rooster takes Bluegrass music from its mountain home for a vacation by the sea. The Long Beach, California-based buskers make SoCal Bluegrass on their recently released self-titled album. Big Bad Rooster offers a love song, promising to give up crack and loosen the noose in “Take Me Back” as the album sets a place at the table for fine dining with “Good ‘N Greasy” and offers a full heart and empty pockets for “Poor Boy” while temptation has to double its speed to keep up with the quick stride of “God Fearing Man”.
Big Bad Rooster keep the mosh pit pace of rapid-fire rhythm in place for their string band songs, transforming Bluegrass into Blurgrass. The quartet make space for traditional tunes of the genre with covers of “In the Pines” and “Midnight Special” as Big Bad Rooster open the album with dreams of Appalachia in “Whiskey Bottom Blues” and harmonize with front porch, Country-flavored Doo Wop on “What Am I Supposed to Do” as they give a shout out to hard times with “Almighty Dollar”, blending their original tune with Isley Brothers “Shout” as they close out the track with the pleas for love with the hopes of ‘say you will’.
-Danny McCloskey, The Alternate Root
These boys have been kicking around great tunes in Long Beach for quite a few years now, and while the cast of pickers has changed over time, the addition of Tristan Cole-Falek on the low end has really solidified the music of Big Bad Rooster as can be heard on their debut self-titled album released yesterday. Fans will hear some great old songs like Poor Boy and Take Me Back along with new tracks and a even few goodtime covers where lead vocalist Michael Solan turns over the duties to his mates. Solan’s mixture of modern lyrical content combined with arrangements that are rich and deep with the history of American Bluegrass style really lend to the authenticity in their sound. Combine these elements with the amazingly talented Barahona brothers, Camilo Barahona on fiddle & Gaspar Barahona on Banjo, and you have a four piece monster of Bluegrass, Americana, and Folk that is super approachable by today’s generation and also reminiscent of a bygone era. Do yourself a favor and check out a live show around town where the boys of Big Bad Rooster will reconnect you with the roots of American music all with a whiskey in one hand and a beer in the other!
Grab a copy of their self-titled album “Big Bad Rooster” on their bandcamp site for just $10, you won’t regret it we guarantee!
-Shea Newkirk, Long Beach Independent
There’s a new trio of roosters in town and they want to make some noise in Long Beach’s vibrant roots music scene. There won’t be a loud crow at dawn but a hoedown howl of a screaming fiddle and the boot-stomping strums of a guitar and banjo . . .
The record is a mix of high-energy original songs, ballads and harmonies connected by impressive musicianship and Solan’s deeply personal lyrics. “It definitely owes respect to that tradition of old-time music, but at the same time it’s lyrically and musically a little bit more current, a little bit more musically ambitious,” Solan said.
The first tune on the release was penned by Solan when he was about 15. It’s called “Poor Boy,” and starts with a fast-paced fiddle that sets the tone for the rest of the tune. “It’s about the exuberance of life and opportunity knocking on your door and the excitement of getting out into the world and being carefree,” Solan said. The album title, “I Do Not Give a Damn,” was taken from a line in that song.
It’s followed by a ballad called “Mollye Lou,” which Solan wrote years ago about his then 7-year-old sister and the hardships she had growing up. Rounding off the record is “Sobriety,” an upbeat tune about the cycle of addiction, and “All I Know,” a philosophical look at “what I’ve come to understand or I think I understand about life,” Solan said. “It’s very autobiographical,” he said of the record. “At the same time I hope that other people can relate to my experiences.”
-Richard Guzman, Long Beach Press-Telegram