This 10-song collection draws comfortably from post-punk, blue-eyed soul and anthemic rock, and exhibits a skilled but shambolic sound honed via 8 years of high-intensity live shows. Featuring Jay Boss Rubin on vocals, Dylan Esmonde on guitar, Robbie Aldworth on drums and Chris Fancier on bass, Big Duck is a homegrown original, stubbornly rooted in classic Rose City themes such as alienation, unrequited love and walking home in wet shoes.
This non-archival, non-pastry related release exposes a cathartic party band that's been playing under-the-radar venues (Slammer, Dirty Duck, Matador, San Dune in Manzanita, Siuslaw Bank Amphitheater in Oakridge) since before Barak Obama was elected president. On record, Big Duck pivots adeptly between Replacements-influenced power trash, chicken-pipkin' country and swinging punk soul that, minus the sax, recalls early Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. There is also a Texas two-step, a barroom blues in which front man Rubin shouts "Everything's illegal in Lake Oswego!" and even a cheeky Jimmy Buffett cover.
"We aim to put these songs across with joyous, life-affirming energy," remarks Rubin who, full disclosure, ran Voodoo Doughnut Recordings until stepping down in Oct. 2016. "But if you listen more closely they're really songs about feeling dejected, walking home alone, probably not sober, in the rainy atmospheric Portland that the band grew up in."