Big Donut has been around for a few years. They’ve played shows across the Flint area and released a few records. Their latest album, There’s Nothing Cool About Love, was released in November of 2016. Immediately, upon popping the disc in you will notice a massive difference between this album and their older material. They traded their soft rock approach for a folky sheen that occasionally ventures somewhere near a sound typically found in country music.
Personally, I didn’t like this album nearly as much as their other records. Most of this conclusion is rooted in my opinion of country music. Broadly speaking, I despise country music. I don’t enjoy the music itself, especially the twang that is strongly connected with the genre. That being said, There’s Nothing Cool About Love is an excellent example of a band leaping away from what has become familiar to them. Rather, they opted to spread their wings a little and try something new.
At times, There’s Nothing Cool About Love feels like a country album. While the vocalist doesn’t have the stereotypical twang of a country artist, he approaches it on some songs, though never reaches it. The guitar work is spot on, as always. It bridges the gap between rock and country, allowing the guitarist room to conjure slick riffs and melodies.
There’s always something alluring about Big Donut’s lyrics. The vocalist delivers them in a smooth and well-crafted manner. They are however, tinted with a dorky slant. Perhaps, for me, it is the subject matter that’s coated with a dorky stain, especially on this album. On this record, the band has a series of songs about indulging in “fried squirrel and gravy”. These songs are dressed up as acoustic tunes, piano ballads and soft rock songs. The music part of these songs is good, however, they are about chowing down on squirrel.
Speaking of the “squirrel” songs, in “Fried Squirrel Biscuits and Gravy #3” the band employed other musical elements, beyond their normal range of instruments. Most notably, a violin joins the ensemble. The delicate sound floats well atop the Beatles-esque mesh of piano and vocals.
Some of the songs, “Emerald Ash Borer” and “Zebra Mussel Blues”, discuss some topics that Michigan natives are very familiar with. I like that the band included some notable elements from their home state. For Michiganders, it adds a sense of warmth and relatability to the record.
Songs Worth Investigating
“The Ghost of Bob Hill” is a singer-song writer ballad imbued with a folky vibe. More importantly, the track tells a story. In their trademark dorky fashion, Big Donut reveals a sad story about man who was ran over by a train and subsequently haunts the area.
“Zebra Mussel Blues” is a blues-rock number that highlights a terrible fact of life in Michigan: Zebra Mussels, an atrocious invasive species that plagues the Great Lakes and Michigan waterways, are ugly and they can slice up your feet. The song does this through a splendid Bluesy veil. Overall, they are a menace worthy of lamenting over. Oddly enough, this is one of the most upbeat songs on the record, despite its name.
You can listen to There’s Nothing Cool About Love in its entirety (for free!) here, on their Bandcamp page. Of course, you can always find them on Spotify if you are intrigued by their music.