FAME Review: The Urban Renewal Project - Go Big or Go Home
The Urban Renewal Project - Go Big or Go Home

Go Big or Go Home

The Urban Renewal Project

Available from Urban Renewal Project's online store.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

You're going to need a lot of vitamins for the bulk of this one, 'cause The Urban Renewal Project's Go Big or Go Home is a hi-energy swingin' affair crossing chart materials with pop with rap with often frantic horns in a small big band format (14 members!) and then punched up everywhere, even when they're being relatively mellow (Rooftops and Parking Lots, etc.). The format is glossy (xlnt engineering work) but cuts right through the usual bullshit such an atmosphere is normally reserved for, clearing away cellophane noise for a very upbeat positivist vibe. 'Sides, the bass trombone and its fellow horns tack down the bottom end well…and that bass 'bone is a kick, kinda like a more agile tuba.

There's a bit of the Either/Orchestra here, enough incidental post-modern inflection to mildly shock ya, a little Ordinaires, Gatsby era floozy swing, Blood Sweat & Tears laybacks, and whoever's writing the horn charts (appears to be R.W. Enoch) thinks in five different layers. The interpolation of rap is interesting, making it one flavor among many rather than allowing the mode to take over, which usually happens with such fusions. Kenny Nealy's the band's vocalist, a sparky lad with smooth delivery dancing on the border of soul and jazz while Logic The Topic, sitting in on most of the CD, raps the monotonic contrast, the two jumping back and forth, Nealy kicking in asides to Logic's deliveries. The band's all the while going harmonically crazy.

Dig this, though: the disc was recorded with the entire band in one room, no synthesized anything, and minimal edits. How the engineer got that clean and well defined a sound is anybody's guess, it shouldn't be possible, but there it is. This is one of those old school live-in-studio gigs flawlessly performed, the sort of thing that used to be done for audiophile vinyl sessions back in the day, and just the kind of thing that needs to be more common. Captures a vibe transcending all the mail-it-in discs with musicians showing up at the boards solo over a period of months just to finish one damn song, f'chrissakes.

For a debut, Go Big or Go Home will rock ya. At the moment, these guys have a monthly gig at the Hollywood House of Blues on Sunset Blvd., but they could appear on stage anywhere with any big band in the biz and get heels kickin' up in short order. Young bastards too, so God only knows what delightful hell they'll be raising five years from now. The mouth waters. Move over, Glenn Miller and Manhattan Transfer, it's a new day, and for an intro, y'all, catch this infectious vid:

But what the hell's the dealy with Nealy in the CD's liner photos, appearing without pants, Speedo banana hammock swingin' in the breeze? Damned jaybird cut-up. Hilarious!

Track List:

  • Night Gig (Enoch / Logan)
  • Transamerican (Enoch / Logan)
  • Rooftops & Parking Lots (Enoch / Logan)
  • Where is my Mind? (Thompson)
  • Metro Girl (Enoch / Logan)
  • Party Time (Enoch / Logan)
  • Feel Good, Inc. (Albran / Burton / Hewlett / Tehe)
  • What I Do (Enoch / Logan)
  • Don't Let It End (R.W. Enoch)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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