Some records automatically make you feel cooler just by listening to them. Instrumental rock-trio Big Lazy’s latest release, Don’t Cross Myrtle is one of those records. With dark, jazzy rhythms and fluid, yet fiery guitar work from leader Stephen Ulrich, Don’t Cross Big Myrtle offers a soundtrack for the seedy American underbelly.
The music doesn’t wallop or stray into wild abandon, but you can still feel the heat. This is a heat that is humid where the only solution is to cool off into a dimly lit bar with a shot of Jameson at your fingers. The instrumental tracks present themselves as slightly nerve-wracking: as in you’d better watch your back because you don’t know what’s around the corner or who’s behind you.
The rhythm section from rock veterans drummer Yuval Lion and Andrew Hall provide a steady yet swinging back beat that leaves plenty of room for Ulrich to texture his songs with sounds that range from elements of Calypso, Blues and pre-Beatles Rock and Roll. On “Low Way” he toggles between a dirty and clean rhythm that hangs warmly over the air. The surf-rock inspired “Human Sacrifice” lives up to its name as Ulrich offers some his most impressive playing, soaked in distortion and blues-rock.
Like most of Big Lazy’s discography, Don’t Cross Myrtle is an ideal candidate for television soundtracks. In fact, the band got one of their first breaks when their debut album Amnesia was used in its entirety on Homicide: Life on the Street in 1996. With that in mind, I’m openly suggesting that Don’t Cross Myrtle be used in some capacity for Netflix’s 1920’s British Gangster drama, Peaky Blinders.
Make no mistake though, Big Lazy aren’t ambient music and shouldn’t be classified simply background music. These are fully formed songs and ideas with rich textures that are worth devoting time to sit and digest. Here’s hoping that Big Lazy don’t go another five years in between albums again.
Check out the video for “Avenue X” below: