Big Angry Fish – The 13 Electric Turn-Ons

Big Angry Fish
The 13 Electric Turn-Ons

Forgive, just for a moment, that both the cover of this CD and the name of this band resemble some ska CD from 1995. Big Angry Fish are NOT a ska band (thank GOD), though at first glance the album got a great big groan. Big Angry Fish are, however, a pretty standard Midwestern rock band that manages to be better than the vast, vast majority of ska while still managing to be mediocre.
Big Angry Fish formed back in 1994 in the grand state of Michigan before signing with the Chicago-based label Beluga records and relocating there. Prior to this, the band released one full length and an EP, all while garnering a following through college radio and live performances. Despite this, I’ve never heard of the band, so I can’t compare this CD to their older with. What I can do is describe yet another power-pop band from Chicago.
To be honest, the first four songs on this CD are absolutely horrible. They inch towards being catchy, but fall just short enough to be gratingly annoying. The music is standard, not rocking too hard, not plinking away (think power chords). The lead vocalist (Mike Coy) isn’t terrible, but he’s nothing to write home about either. The lyrics are by far the weakest aspect of this band. The album opens with the brutally deep line, “You say you feel better, I say I feel worse.” What follows are more “Me Tarzan, you Jane” sentiments that I think were supposed to resemble emo lyrics. Sounds like someone handed the drummer a pen and a piece of paper.
Fortunately, the middle of the album somehow packs in a few songs punchy and poppy enough to make me forget the laughable lyrics. The band manages to do a complete 180, going from horrible pop songs to a couple of songs that I actually had a desire to hear again. Indeed, “Sohio,” “Lack of Enthusiasm” and “Superphonic” are all reminiscent enough of the classic Midwest pop sound to warrant some attention. “Jetison” and “Effortless” are similarly interesting, making the last half of this album almost worthwhile.
Big Angry Fish’s more lenient critics (or maybe their mothers, I’m not sure who’s writing some of this stuff…) would like to compare them to the Pixies or Big Star. They don’t approach the genius of the Pixies, nor are they as catchy as Big Star, but they draw enough from the latter to write a few interesting songs. If you’re a real big fan of Midwest pop and for some inexplicable reason you’ve run out of bands to listen to, then at least give Big Angry Fish a chance. Hey, at least it’s not ska.