Big Atomic is on the side of the people. This funky five-piece from Louisville, Kentucky does not idly stand by while injustice reigns supreme. We might be enjoying the start of summer in a brand new post-COVID era, taking vacations and attending concerts without a care in the world. But, remember last summer? Remember the social tragedies, one right after another, that led to a whole country torn apart? The worst thing we can do is forget, now that things are back to normal.
The fight lives on with ‘Body Politic’ — a four-song jam journey through the eyes of the enraged and embittered.
If the events of last summer didn’t bother you, it’s time to really look in the mirror and wonder why. Black Lives Matter marches turned violent… passive protests bombarded with tear gas and rubber bullets… it seemed like a second civil war was upon the United States and no one in power was doing anything to resolve it. Rendered politically voiceless (like everyone else), Big Atomic took their opinions to song, writing Body Politic, a beautifully-worded EP out now on all digital outlets. Based in Louisville (home of Breonna Taylor), the band experienced firsthand the level of heat the phrase “no justice, no peace” holds, leading directly to the creation of the EP’s second song, “Justice Denied”. With a pretty, yet somber saxophone intro, the track singlehandedly captures the intense emotion surrounding the race war of 2020. “What the hell are we supposed to do?” Big Atomic spouts the only logical conclusion — “take it to the streets”. What’s special about this song is that Big Atomic knows that they are out of their wheelhouse in writing it, evidenced in the statement “I’m just a white boy singing protest songs”… obviously there is no way the band members know how the death of Breonna Taylor might feel to the African American community. That said, bottom line is, we “stand by you”.
“Justice Denied”, detailing the inefficiencies of this country, follows the lead track “Trust”, an upbeat, yet turbulent single with horns blaring right out the gate. Lead singer Shannon Vetter asks, “Why is it so hard to make it? At 31 years old, I just can’t take it.” It’s like the system in this country is set up against us?! Well, maybe it is. Big Atomic is sick of the lack of “trust” going around these days… least of all in the ones we were raised to treat as dogma — “God”, “the government” or “our president”. As skilled saxophone and guitar solos switch off in the bridge, it’s almost a metaphor for how hope and despair go back and forth in our brains every time we turn on the recent news. It’s a never-ending emotional rollercoaster… yet, there’s a new day coming. The EP ends with a tranquil release from the tension in “Let It Slide”, an oasis of sonic soundscape, much alike that of Pink Floyd. “I know it’s hard, but things are gonna get better,” sings Vetter. Like the calm after the storm, this fusion of funk, jam band, psychedelic rock and blues comes to a much-needed moment of reflection.
Our “good fight” isn’t over, but the battles thus far have (at the very least) made people take notice.
For fans of Dispatch, Phish and other sociopolitically-charged rock bands, make sure to add Big Atomic to your playlists! Plus, all proceeds of the EP go to Change Today, Change Tomorrow, a non-profit focused on providing resources, education and community engagement to African Americans in the Greater Louisville area. For more information or to donate to the CTCT program, visit the links below.
Purchase or stream ‘Body Politic’ EP:
- Justice Denied
- Let It Slide
Big Atomic – “Trust” official video
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.