Album Review Big Jaw : Fort Fun

Clint Roth, aka Big Jaw, is a name you may not know but give it a little time. He’ll be a name you’ll know soon enough. I’ll give you some highlights: Roth grew up in the Midwest but is now based in Austin, TX. He’s one of those incredibly talented cats that can play everything. On top of that he can write hella good songs, too. He’s everything that makes up the perfect storm in regards to musician/singer/songwriters go. He even touts a pretty manly mustache.

As Big Jaw, Roth has put out two extremely solid EPs. The first was the exquisitely raucous Appetite For Construction, which he followed up with the riff-heavy Photophobia in 2014. Roth returned to the confines of a small practice space and pushed himself to create. The result is the newest Big Jaw banger called Fort Fun. It’s everything you’ve come to expect from Roth, and then some.

So here’s a little background on Fort Fun, from the man himself:

A little over a year ago, I got a one month lockout in an hourly rehearsal facility here in Austin. I loaded all my recording gear, and guitars, amps, and drums, into a little 14’x14′ room with other hourly rehearsal rooms on three sides and above(think Pantera cover bands in Quad) . I went in with no ideas of what I was going to do. No songs started. My goal was to put myself in that space as much as possible over that month when I wasn’t at work, and see what came out. I wasn’t going to edit my output while I was in that space. I just let myself be free to mess around with any idea that popped up and see where it led.

Where it led was to a five song EP called Fort Fun and the mesmerizing album opener “Homesick”. It opens with woozy synth sounds(think the intro to “Fly Like An Eagle”) before the song blows open with big guitars and drums. Roth sings “Drop acid by the covered bridge/ Write with satan’s chalk/Ditch all your uniforms/Before you run from the cops”, as the song moves along like some long lost mid-90s alternative track you might’ve heard on 96.3 in its heyday. “Tell Me What I Want To Hear” sports a driving rhythm and lyrics like “I Am A Dancer Trapped Inside /The Body of a Lamppost /Let’s Get Weird With It Tonight /And Dance Until The Sunrise”. This is one of those songs you can’t help but play air drums along to. It’s an infectious jam. “If We Could Breathe In Space” sounds like neo-futuristic power guitar pop. Jazz-inflected chords float above the proceedings as Roth makes good use of space and atmosphere. It’s a truly unique track. “Third Ontological Dimension of The Body” is a short interlude of  buzzes and beeps that Roth said he got all the source material from a pinball arcade. “Restless Heart” could also be called “Workingman’s Blues”. Riff heavy rocker talking about day jobs and girls that just don’t get it. $7 to his name, watching a Tom Cruise racing flick, and fine dining in soup kitchens. This track has it all, and it’s a hell of a way to end the EP.

Big Jaw make hard-driving rock and roll with touches of power pop and 90s alternative, as well as something unique in Clint Roth as a songwriter with an ear for sonics and melody. Fort Fun continues Roth’s winning streak and makes good on the promise of Photophobia. It’s an adrenaline-fueled joy ride. A hot wired batch of tunes ready to burn rubber.

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