26 Mar 2023

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Richter City Rebels - Album Review: Big Fresh

23 Feb 2023 // A review by Cathy Elizabeth
Bustling like a street carnival parade comes the Richter City Rebel’s third studio album Big Fresh. With an impressive list of featured local artists and wall-to-wall brass and percussion, this exuberant collection of colourful tracks would certainly have any crowd pumping at a live show.

But does it translate well to a studio recording, I wonder? In my opinion, this kind of music is really best experienced as a live act, mixed together with the sweat and grit of a seedy Wellington underground bar that’s packed like sardines. It just works. And going by the popularity of the band’s Spotify plays, it’s clear that people do, in fact, enjoy this style of music at home, in the car, or perhaps played at a party. Maybe on a few restaurant and bar playlists?

The production team at Tiny Triumph Recordings have done an excellent job of capturing the energy and vibe of that live big-band sound, with many of the songs (if not all?) sounding like they have been recorded together as live takes. You can hear people cheering at the end of some of the tracks, so I would say yes, they have successfully captured that live feel and made it really seem like “being there”.

But somehow for me, it’s just not quite the same listening here in my living room, seated in front of my laptop. I have a much higher tolerance for tuba and percussion out in the wild, it would seem. It starts to feel like the constant banging of pots and pans. And who can really take a tuba too seriously, anyway? It's almost like the sound is just so big, it really needs to be played outdoors. It is outside music for sure!

Vocal artists featured on Big Fresh include Aurelien Barnes, Troy Kingi, Moira Jean, Chris CK, Raw Deezy, Devon Welch, and Matthew Pender. Among its 10 vibrant tracks, the guest artists create some really special moments. Like Pop A 7%er with its Gorillaz come Cypress Hill style rap delivery from Raw Deezy and Chris CK. Moira Jean chimes in flawlessly in the choruses, and it’s pretty damn cool. Definitely my album favourite.

Through My Venetians featuring Troy Kingi has the most beautiful and interesting melody lines in the chorus, making the track really quite addictive. And Slow Rollin' is punchy and relentless, a bit like trance music but done with all brass and percussion. Devon Welch drops some great lines in the final third of the track, and I’m loving the distinctively kiwi tones of New Zealand hip-hop shining through.

All in all this album is a triumphant ear-blasting and has captured the raw essence and energy of a big band sound with a lot of brass and percussion. A LOT. It has a world-music street-party feel, and it most certainly is a vibe, no doubt about it. But perhaps one you need to be in the right mood for. Big Fresh is definitely for those who are in a “more is more” kind of mood!

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Richter City Rebels

Richter City Rebels' music is heavy and soulful. It grooves deeply with pounding bass and searing brass. Catchy vocals and chants draw the crowd into the party and the rolling, infectious sound is punctuated by the fierce crack of drums and percussion. 2023 brings the release of the Rebels' third studio album with recent live collaborators going on record, including: Troy Kingi, Aurelian Barnes (Cha Wa), Matt Pender (OdESSA), and Chris CK. Equally at home on stage and parading, you can't help but dance and feel good!

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