The Big Sweet
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The Big Sweet

Canton, Ohio, United States | SELF

Canton, Ohio, United States | SELF
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"REVIEW: Bicycle Nights"

Now that the kids in Canton, Ohio's The Big Sweet are 19 years old, they've released their third full album, and it's a wonderful journey through a variety of guitar- and power-pop styles. Their new one, Bicycle Nights, is partly a continuation of their sound, but it's partly a move in some new musical directions. The Big Sweet is Sam Regas (lead vocals, guitar, songwriter) Brad Berbari (guitar, keys), Matt McDonald (bass), and Drew Watson (drums), and their musical development is on full display here.

Considering that these kids were 15 or so when they released well-received Ultraviolet Rain (WYMA review here), we're not too surprised at the way they combine sweet pop with a dense, baroque approach (including strings and synths in spots) throughout this record, but we are certainly impressed. Again.

Here's "Somber Sighs" - as jangly as the guitars, and as sweet as the harmony vocals are, there's something more here:

It's guitar pop, and catchy as ever... but along with the soaring vocal harmonies and guitars, there are touches like the slightly dissonant piano and ripping electric guitar solo in "Casse La Fleur" and the almost wholly piano-based closing track "Pillars" that hint at a bit of time spent listening to the recent output of Wilco or some of the super-catchy "experimental" pop of WYMA hero Robert Pollard. Either way, those are good touchpoints for rock fans and trace a strong trajectory for the musical ambitions of these teenagers. The album is out now (Aug. 27) and is self-released. It's available via iTunes or CDBaby. - When You Motor Away


"The Big Sweet- Bicycle Nights"

The Big Sweet is an indie pop band straight out of Ohio and just hit their three album mark with “Bicycle Nights”. While barely finishing high school, they already have grown up as songwriters and musicians. On this album, they are stepping into territories of music pop experimentation where bands such as Lemonheads, The Replacements, Miracle Legion and R.E.M. have gone through. As the greats before them, they were heavily impacted by the Beatles and they showcase it quite well in their songs. Singer Sam Regas has a hint of John Lennon carefully layered within his voice and known how to stay in range. The guitars are tune into sugary drenched tones, the drums sway all over your ears, the bass ties everything together and the vocal melodies are relaxed with passion. This instrumentation is sprinkled with effects, brass, synth and piano that gives the music its own distinctive color. Each song is catchy and ready for the radio airplay.

The album opens up with “Somber Sighs” which could be a single and proof that this band could write excellent tunes. It opens up with flowery synths, tingly guitars that are raining down notes and harmonic vocals that are easily addicting. It has a strange vibe but it’s comforting. “Almost The Sun” is a rhythmic dream pop tune that crawls into your ears and takes control. You could hear the psychedelic folk influence in the guitars and drums. There is a synth floating over as a bug throughout the music. “Glowing Alone” has a unique bass line wrapping around the sweet vocals, laminated guitars and shouting retro brass section. It all compliments each other so well and proves they know what they are doing.

“The Better Half of You” is a fun song to sing along to as you ponder around the house. Its jangly guitars, tumbling beats, and playful vocal melody will remind you of something The Shins would do. It’s a breath fresh air for those who are cynical about the current state of music. “Morning Papers” has an alternative pop feel that existed in the 80’s. The guitars are bright with psychedelic flavor. The atmosphere is dreamy and should be the musical definition of happiness. Also, the vocals will stick to your brain like candy. The guitar solo is short but its fits and has a strangeness attach to it.

“Happy Songs” is a heavily groove jam that goes through the air as a million particles and comes back into one. This song is where you can hear the experimentation especially in the tempo and structure change throughout. It’s a ballad from another planet. “Wax Dolls” is where you can hear the Beatles’ influence very clearly. The rhythm and piano sounds like a traveling circus. It’s a modern day Sgt. Pepper-ish song. The music goes haywire for a brief moment but it transitions itself back. The vocals are playful and fun as its jumping along with the instruments. “Pillars” has a weird vocal effect panning from ear to ear as serves as the finale of this experimental pop album. There is a driven piano chord acting as the foundation of the song. The vocals are stripped down. As the end approaches, the drummer goes on a distorted Ringo Starr inspired rampage and closes the album with a bang.

This band has matured and experimented successfully with pop standards. They accomplished lots considering they just stepped out of high school. Their songs are memorable, fresh, catchy and fun. It’s a great example for those who believe music is dead. They know how to use their instruments and capture a good sound. I highly recommend this for anyone who loves to sing along and dance to music to alternative pop. You will have this on heavy rotation.

Best tracks: Somber Nights, Almost Got The Sun, The Better Half of You, Morning Papers, Happy Songs, and Wax Dolls. - The Musical Junkie


"The Big Sweet: 25 Bands to Watch"

PERSONNEL: Brad Berbari (guitar, keyboards), Matt McDonald (bass), Sam Regas (vocals, guitar) and Drew Watson (drums, percussion, sampling effects)

FILE UNDER: Indie rock crossed with power pop and psychedelia

LATEST RELEASE: "Ultraviolet Rain" album

SOUND BITE: "Our music is a reflection of being big music fans ourselves," says Regas. "We're trying to please ourselves. It might sound selfish, but we make music we think we would enjoy listening to. It's challenging music, but it's melodic, too. People respond well to it." - Cleveland Plain Dealer


"The Big Sweet talks "Ultraviolet Rain""

There's a soothing sense of psychedelica at the heart of The Big Sweet's Ultraviolet Rain.

The Ohio quartet creates sonic dreamscapes that are as easy to fall into as anything from The Pixies or Pavement. Songs like "Cyanide Room" cruise on heavenly hooks and ethereal guitars punctuated by succinct grooves. The tunes come from a mature emotional place that belies the fact the members are still in high school so throw expectations out the window and let them take you on a ride. There's a good chance these lads could change the course of indie rock as they know it.

In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino, The Big Sweet frontman Sam Regas tells us all about Ultraviolet Rain and so much more.

Was it important for you to have an overarching vision for Ultraviolet Rain?

That was one of the key things when we recorded the album. In terms of the actual song content, there are a lot of recurring themes like light, color, and seasonal references. Those are reflected in the title, Ultraviolet Rain. As far as the music goes, we were very specific about bridging the gap between songs with certain transitions to help support the theme of it all being one unified piece.

What inspired the theme of light?

A lot of the lyrics were stream of consciousness. I think there's something about color and light, without sounding too pretentious [Laughs]. People can see through light and certain types of colors. There's something about that idea which interested me. More than anything, it's an interesting philosophical thing to think about. It also makes for some good rhyming schemes. I don't know exactly where it came from, but once it got rolling, I jumped on board with it. We were definitely going for more of a psychedelic approach. That seemed to lend itself well to the theme of light and color and the spaciness.

What's the story behind "Cyanide Room"?

That song definitely goes more into that stream-of-consciousness style of writing. It literally came about from cousin and I sitting in a room in our beach house which we go to ever year for an extended family vacation. We sat around the room, literally looked at objects, and tried to tie them into this word salad type song. If you try to read the lyrics just as prose, they won't make any sense. It's really not intended to. That was one of the best cases of something sounding phonetically good and purposefully strange to the ear. At the chord structure, it's almost folkier. There's a country sort of riff in there. We put all of these weird lyrics on top of it, and there's this contrast.

Where else do you draw inspiration outside of music?

I like a lot of the Beat writing such as Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski. I don't if that's necessarily reflected in the lyrics. I do watch a lot of movies too. Of course, I listen to a lot of music too. I go for the approach of trying to tell a story or paint a landscape but make it definitely abstracted. Stephen Malkmus of Pavement is probably my biggest inspiration as well as Jeff Mangin of Neutral Milk Hotel. The songs are lyrically with a lot of concrete words, but they don't have a lot of concrete meaning all the time.

If Ultraviolet Rain were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?

I would say Pulp Fiction, but that would be way too cool [Laughs]. I'd say possibly Dazed and Confused. It's an early '90s classic. That may seem weird. However, in terms of the feeling I get when I watch that movie and the feeling I get when I listen to my favorite albums and hopefully when people hear our album, there's that bittersweet vibe. It's like at the end of the movie where they all realize that they've run out of that tap of beer at 5 in the morning. The sun is on the rise. It strikes a chord. Plus, the fact that we're teenagers and the movie is centered around teenagers. - Artist Direct


"CD Review: The Big Sweet- Ultraviolet Rain"

Ohio-based indie band the Big Sweet are very young, they’re teenagers even, but they rock a very sophisticated sound, which is that finely tuned, happily fussed about power pop sound that should be more popular among the general population, and not just music nerds. Youthful music, like the perfectly named Big Sweet, should all be power pop bands, because they don’t have much to worry about, and that’s a theme that permeates the record. I only wish I’d discovered Ultraviolet Rain during the summer – it’s a sunny day, dustry driving kind of record.

Ultraviolet Rain does push all the buttons of a power pop album—jangly guitars, crisp drums, tambourine hand claps, instrumental drop outs and interludes (“In and Out of Style”), and harmonic “woo woos.” And that’s just fine, because there’s nothing wrong with pop music, or wanting to make pop music, and the world needs legitimate, authentic music with a good beat that you can dance to. While throwbacky, the occasional drum machine (programmed by drummer Drew Watson), while is a throwback device, paradoxically makes the Big Sweet sound ultra-contemporary, at home amongst the shoegazey Brooklyn rock of their peers.

And yet Ultraviolet Rain does offer a barely detectable edge of sinister or sadness to it. Musically, the vibe is Lush meets Matthew Sweet, but frontman Sam Regas has some ever so slightly pained vocals learned in the Elliott Smith school, and the whole thing is finished off with a touch of No Depression sloppiness. Regas has the presence and confidence of a pop wizard, like Ben Kweller or Adam Schlesinger, that unabashed sensibility for sweet hooks and good feeling music that he surely hears already completed in his head. What’s most striking is the uncanny ability to use just the right instruments and tools on just the right songs – the maracas out of nowhere don’t feel contrived is what I’m saying.

It’s the music that ought to be and will be the soundtrack of the life of a cool teenager trying to figure out what he wants to do with himself. Or at least a track like “And You Wake” could be used as the theme song for a show on the same topic (“And You Wake”). - Popdose


"CD Review: The Big Sweet- Ultraviolet Rain"

From the very first sounds on their second album — an electronic drone shattered by jangly pop — there's no denying that the Big Sweet are one of the most polished bands on the scene. While it's worth mentioning that they're still in high school, the truth is age doesn't even scratch the surface of what's most impressive about this quartet. Ultraviolet Rain is lyrically smart and reminiscent of everything we love about indie-rock heroes like Pavement. From the sunny kick-off "Laces" to the Replacements-style melancholy of "Empty Movie Reels," the Big Sweet aren't about fads — just back-to-basics music that's catchy enough to draw you in and deep enough to keep you listening. — Munnell - Cleveland Scene Magazine


"REVIEW: The Big Sweet- Ultraviolet Rain"

The Big Sweet is a power-pop quartet from Cleveland, Ohio who bring to my mind an imagined collaboration of XTC with Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, with more than trace elements of Big Star... what I'm trying to say is that these guys have a way with a hook, a backbeat and a guitar line and really can put it all together. The music is catchy, and very well-crafted.

The band consists of Sam Regas (Vocals, Guitar), Brad Berbari (Guitar, Keyboards), Matt McDonald (Bass), and Drew Watson (Drums, Percussion, Effects), and this is their second record. From the opening of "Laces" with its ultra-jangly guitars and infectious backbeat, the pop/rock ambitions of The Big Sweet are on full display, and the promise is kept on song after song.

"In And Out of Style" is a power-pop ballad with lots of tempo changes and jangle, "Softened Gold" is fairly similar, but shorter, then "N-C" stretches out with some guitar solos... all of it with some terrific vocals reminiscent, to me, of Lloyd Cole and Alex Chilton. The centerpiece, the 7:01 "Wet On Canvas", is full of synths, layered vocals and all kinds of guitars, and it swirls and swirls...

Listening to Ultraviolet Rain with no knowledge of the band's background, I'd expect this is the work of a group of power-pop veterans who had been gigging in other bands for years, collecting their own songs and finally taking the big step of booking a studio and a producer and laying it all down. And I'd be wrong. These are kids who went from borrowing their parents' R.E.M., GbV, Mats and Big Star records to covering that stuff, to recording and coming out with this very accomplished record before they're old enough to vote. Highly recommended for folks who dig power pop.
- When You Motor Away


"The Big Sweet:: Ultraviolet Rain"

The Big Sweet’s album Ultraviolet Rain mounts a charge of moving pop that swirls, bakes, and congeals without missing a beat. If you’re wondering what that means, don’t fret, just give a listen to a few songs here.

- Parasites and Sycophants


"Local Band in Focus The Big Sweet"

Meet the Band: Sam Regas (guitars and vocals), Brad Berbari (guitars), Drew Watson (drums), and Matt McDonald (bass)

They Never Travel Far Without a Little Big Star: These high-school juniors (three are from Canton, one lives in Cleveland) mix jangly power pop with Pavement-style indie rock. "We dressed up and played as Pavement for a Halloween concert at the Beachland," says Regas. "Our drummer was shirtless and had these really short shorts, like [Pavement's original drummer] Gary Young sometimes wore, which was both funny and disturbing."

They've Done More in 17 Years Than You'll Ever Do: Since their debut album, Shot of Bliss, was released last year, the Big Sweet have opened for Sara Borges, Cracker, and Josiah Wolf. Their new album, Ultraviolet Rain, will be unveiled this week at a CD-release show.

Wait, You're How Old?: Regas talks about his band's albums like one of those old-school guys you see hanging around a record shop on Saturday afternoons. "We wanted to make a dense pop record that was musically adventurous but still very lyrical and rooted in melody," he says. "We felt our last album had some good tunes on it, but it felt less like a cohesive whole and more like a collection of songs."

Why They Say They Matter:

"We wanted [Ultraviolet Rain] to feel like a singular piece of music, one with tracks that could stand on their own, but together feel like a true album," says Regas.

Why We Say They Matter:

Loaded with sound effects and a definite ebb and flow, the album recalls recent Wilco in structure and tone.

Where You Can Hear Them: myspace.com/thebigsweet

Where You Can See Them: At the Auricle in Canton on June 3. - Cleveland Scene Magazine


"The Big Sweet-Ultraviolet Rain."

It was almost a year to the date we looked at this Ohio band's debut album, Shot of Bliss, and they haven't wasted any time with the followup. Once again, these (now) 17-year-olds have produced a confident, assured mix of power pop and indie rock that belies their age. Whereas last time they covered Big Star's "September Gurls", here they assimilate their sound in "Laces" (while the skittish "In and Out of Style" recalls solo Alex Chilton). Also of note are the pop/rocker "N-O", which doesn't quite go where you expect it to, and the jangle of both "As You Wake" and "Ancient Psych". With enough winding turns and crooked alleys, Ultraviolet Rain isn't cookie-cutter power pop - but in this case, the journey is a much fun as the destination.
- Absolute Powerpop


"The Big Sweet-Ultraviolet Rain."

It was almost a year to the date we looked at this Ohio band's debut album, Shot of Bliss, and they haven't wasted any time with the followup. Once again, these (now) 17-year-olds have produced a confident, assured mix of power pop and indie rock that belies their age. Whereas last time they covered Big Star's "September Gurls", here they assimilate their sound in "Laces" (while the skittish "In and Out of Style" recalls solo Alex Chilton). Also of note are the pop/rocker "N-O", which doesn't quite go where you expect it to, and the jangle of both "As You Wake" and "Ancient Psych". With enough winding turns and crooked alleys, Ultraviolet Rain isn't cookie-cutter power pop - but in this case, the journey is a much fun as the destination.
- Absolute Powerpop


"Band comes of age on ambitious new album"

CANTON —

To call the Big Sweet a boy band was entirely accurate when I interviewed the guys for The Repository’s 2009 Battle of the Bands.

Freshmen in high school then, they seemed even younger, shy, giggly and self-conscious. Their original music, catchy pop-rock stuff, was promising and certainly impressive for their age. Yet a song titled “Wasted Generation” seemed premature coming from such fresh-faced 14-year-olds.

“We looked like little kids,” guitarist Brad Berbari, now 17, says with amusement. “I listen to our (first recordings) and our voices haven’t changed yet.”

In the two years since that first meeting, the Big Sweet has grown by leaps and bounds — and not just in height.

To recap, the band went on to win the Repository’s 2010 battle, has played multiple shows at Quaker Steak & Lube, First Friday and Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom, has landed gigs opening for Cracker (Musica in Akron) and the Smithereens (June 17 at the Tangier in Akron), competed in the Tri-C High School Rock Off at the House of Blues, received steady airplay on Akron’s The Summit, and released an impressive full-length album, “Shot of Bliss,” in 2010.

SOPHOMORE ALBUM IMPRESSES

The big news is the imminent release of “Ultraviolet Rain,” the Big Sweet’s second album. It is a remarkable record, the kind of off-center, psychedelia-tinged indie rock that critics tend to drool over. With each listen, the initially subtle melodic hooks dig deeper, and the production effects (backwards tremolo guitars, faux-Mellotron, percussion textures) creep further out of the woodwork.

“I think we went in more focused on the overall feel of it,” says Sam Regas, 17, the Big Sweet’s lead vocalist, guitarist and chief songwriter. “We were going for a song-cycle kind of thing.”

“It’s such a layered-type recording. It’s really a sound collage,” Berbari says.

Regas’ lyrics tend toward the vague if not outrightly abstract. One of the strongest songs, “Softened Gold,” opens thusly: “Is it cool to be cold and calculating? If not, I’ll work on my prose, but warm abstraction makes me loathe.” Another album stand-out, “Wet On Canvas,” begins with, “Who’s the man in the capture with the giant eyes? I really love his leather. It’s so well advertised.”

The words are “more about the mood of it than telling a story,” Regas explains. The album’s last song, “Empty Movie Reels,” was inspired by the sight of an abandoned drive-in movie theater. “It was really bittersweet,” he recalls. “The concept of something lively and of its time and now really barren.”

OLD-SCHOOL RECORDING

The Big Sweet, which also includes bassist Matt McDonald and drummer Drew Watson, both 16, recorded “Ultraviolet Rain” over a period of three months this past winter at producer-engineer Wes McCraw’s Creekside Audio Studio in Norton.

“To me it sounds old and new at the same time. They wanted to go for a very organic, big-sound, old-school recording approach,” McCraw says. “It’s fun for me to have 17-year-olds come in to the studio — I’m 47 — and we have the same frames of musical reference. They’ll say, ‘How did the Beatles get that sound on ‘The White Album?’ ”

McCraw also produced the Big Sweet’s debut album.

“That first record, they were very green. They were still getting proficient on their instruments,” he says. “Sam’s songwriting has definitely matured since the last album. It’s become much more melody-driven.”

Clearly, the producer enjoyed collaborating with the Big Sweet on “Ultraviolet Rain.” “They’re kids with a high energy level and lots of goofing around in the studio, making jokes and wearing funny hats,” McCraw says. “But there’s also a serious side. They’re all A students and they’re knowledgeable about other things outside of music. It’s not an ego situation.”

CD RELEASE PARTY

The band members obsessed in the studio over “Laces,” the album’s multi-layered opening song, which originally had about 80 tracks. “We wanted to draw people right in,” Berbari says.

Adds Regas, “Drew’s joke was that we’ll need an 80-member band for our 80-track song.”

To celebrate the release of “Ultraviolet Rain,” the Big Sweet will appear in concert June 3 (First Friday) at 7:30 p.m. at The Auricle at 601 Cleveland Ave. NW in downtown Canton. Admission is $2. Copies of the CD will be available for $10 at the show, and also are on sale at Checkered Records.

The Big Sweet’s show on First Friday in May, moved indoors to the cozy Buzzbin Art & Music Shop due to rain, found the guys musically tight but also loose, confident and funny.

“We are getting more comfortable onstage, and better at engaging the audience,” says Berbari. “I don’t think we’d survive without our sense of humor.”

The Big Sweet intends to play its entire new album during the CD release party. While the band has been playing some of these songs in its shows for awhile, “they have more substance after the (recording) studio,” Regas says.

BIG SWEET FUTURE?
- Canton Repository


"Hear an Exclusive New Song From the Big Sweet's New Album"

We like Cleveland-Canton teen indie rockers the Big Sweet. And apparently they like us.

The band just gave us the first song from their new album, Ultraviolet Rain, which comes out in June.

If the new album is anything like last year's debut, Shot of Bliss, then we're probably gonna like it. A lot.

"Laces" sounds like an early blast of summer, filled with jangly power-pop guitars and tinkling piano.

The Big Sweet open for the Smithereens at the Tangier on April 29. Their CD-release show is on June 3 at the Auricle in Canton.

"Laces" is below (did we mention it's an exclusive, and the only place you can hear it is here?). Let us know what you think. —Michael Gallucci - Cleveland Scene Magazine


"3 Canton Bands to Watch- The Big Sweet"

Pulling up to the house in Jackson where The Big Sweet is holding their weekly practice, we can hear echoes of rim shots and bass from the driveway.

“I told them to turn it down,” apologized Nick Regas, the father of lead singer and guitarist Sam, who met us at the door. “I don’t think they did.”

And frankly, they won’t: The Big Sweet’s star is still rising, and there’s no telling how high the parabola will go. The four-piece indie-pop group is intimately familiar with the Northeast Ohio venue circuit, having played at Musica, House of Blues and the Tangier. They’re staples at the Beachland, where they opened for The Smithereens on April 29. And they’re still not legally allowed to have a post-gig beer.

The Big Sweet is composed of four musicians all finishing up their junior year of high school: Sam Regas; Brad Berbari (guitar, some keyboard and backup vocals); Matt McDonald (bass); and Drew Watson (drums).

Today they’re playing off their upcoming album, “Ultraviolet Rain.” The song “Cyanide Rain” pairs an insistent bass line with the incongruous plunks of a xylophone. “Empty Movie Reels” is a textural, catchy tune with a commandingly hollow beginning beat. This isn’t the kind of half-formed Jonas Brothers sound you might expect from a group that formed when its members were 14.

When I ask Sam what their musical influences are, I expect him to rattle off a catalog of the obvious — the Beatles, Green Day, maybe the Ramones to keep things edgy. Instead, he pauses thoughtfully. “The big band for me, especially early, was probably Pavement. That was the band I was really into for a while,” he said. “Definitely Television, XTC and older baroque pop like The Zombies. Brian Wilson. It’s pretty varied. Wilco.” I’ve been schooled. And the other members have similarly advanced tastes — Sonic Youth, Spoon, Neutral Milk Hotel.

Sophisticated influences mean that The Big Sweet’s audience tends to be older than the teen demographic they belong to — though they nonetheless trounced other high-school competitors to win the Canton Repository Battle of the Bands in 2010.

“We’re kind of in a weird spot,” said McDonald. “Our music appeals to people in their late 20s or early 30s. We don’t sound like many bands our age.”

“We don’t sound like Wiz Khalifa,” added Berbari.

Maybe not, but they do sound good. Their second album (following last April’s debut, “Shot of Bliss”) will be released at the Auricle during Canton’s First Friday in June, and it’s a consistently catchy, solid album, with psychedelic elements and unconventional touches.

“I feel like the songs are a lot more cohesive [than ‘Shot of Bliss’]. They were written in a form where the songs flow continuously,” said Sam. (He writes the songs, with help from the others.) “We wanted to retain a sense of melody, so there’s a unifying sense in the album.”

“It’s the same level of upbeat poppy music but it’s more experimental,” said Watson. “It’s a modern psychedelic album,” added McDonald.

As the music (and the band) matures, the tendency to view them as a high-school novelty has faded in favor of real respect as musicians. “In a lot of ways they say, ‘Oh, you’re really good for your age.’ That’s the classic one, and I’ve always felt it’s almost like a backhanded compliment. Either they really appreciate our music for what it is or they give the compliment,” said Sam. “But we’re starting to outgrow that now. At least, we’re taken more seriously than we were 14 and looked like we were 12.”

Watson pointed out that though their youth is often the initial appeal, the music retains their audience. “Our age will draw people in, but our music will keep them listening,” he said.

How does the group manage to stay together — difficult for even the most lung-blackened, devil-may-care, hard-touring musician, let alone four guys who still have a prom to face?

“We have common musical tastes, common interests, good chemistry,” said Berbari. “There’s no drama in the band,” said Sam. “We all get along really well.”

Still, there’s a smack of the adolescent in all of us. The band tells me that “Shot of Bliss” was ranked on Absolute Powerpop’s Top 100. “We were number 69,” said Sam. I try to swallow a laugh, until I see all four of them smirking. “We’re trying not to make it any better this time, so we can keep our ranking,” Berbari said.

Guess even 16-year-old Wilco fans — or, hell, 24-year-old Buzzbin editors — aren’t above a little junior-high humor. - Buzzbin Magazine


"A Big, Sweet Year"

2010 has been a big year for The Big Sweet, and winning The Repository’s Battle of the Bands in early March was just part of it.

The battle victory “probably gave us more options, a good thing to put on our résumé, new fans and a good experience,” said singer-guitarist Sam Regas, 16, a junior at Jackson High School.

“We honestly didn’t know if we were going to win going into it,” Regas said about the battle, which drew a near-capacity crowd to Canton’s Palace Theatre. “We didn’t know any of the bands.”

Other Big Sweet members, all 16, are drummer Drew Watson and guitarist Brad Berbari, both Jackson juniors, and Matt McDonald, a junior at The Lyceum school in Cleveland.

Since their win at the Palace, The Big Sweet has released its first CD, “Shot of Bliss,” which has received airplay on Akron’s 91.3 The Summit. The band has performed locally at First Friday, Quaker Steak & Lube, Pete’s Grill and the Jackson Festival. The band also has played at Akron’s Musica, opening for Cracker; Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom, opening for Cobra Verde and Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles; and Akron’s Tangier, opening for Will Hoge at a Summit listener appreciation show.

“That was probably our coolest gig,” Regas said of the Tangier show. “We had a built-in audience (from Summit airplay) that was attentive. We played in front of 300 people who were listening. And (Hoge) was a really nice guy. We got a chance to talk to him during sound check.”

Tonight from 9 to 11 p.m., The Big Sweet will perform at Muggswigz Coffee & Tea Co. at 137 Walnut Ave. NE in downtown Canton. Admission to the New Year’s Eve party is free.

Lately, The Big Sweet has been working on its second album at Creekside Audio in Norton with producer Wes McGraw.

“We’re at a place where we’re really excited to be recording this next album,” Regas said. “It sounds more like us than the stuff we’ve done before. We’re finding a nice bridge between poppiness and dissonance.” - The Canton Repository


"The Big Sweet- Shot of Bliss"

The Big Sweet hail from Ohio, and their debut disc Shot of Bliss is an impressive mix of indie rock and power pop, drawing from influences like Big Star, The Replacements, Pavement and Television. Oh, and by the way these guys are only 16. If you didn't know this fact, it'd surprise you after listening to this debut that sounds like a band 8-10 years its senior. There's plenty to like here: the early Wilco rock of "Dress Up Your Mind", the poppy Replacements sound of "So Fine (You're Mine)", the indie rock of the title track, and the acoustic "Good & Down Youth". And they have the good taste to go with "September Gurls" as their lone stab at a cover here. If these guys are the future of power pop, then power pop may be in good hands.
Posted by Steve
- Absolute Powerpop


"Lock 3 goes old school Saturday"

This Cleveland-based band is a quartet of high school sophomores (Sam Regas, lead vocals/guitar; Brad Berbari, guitar/vocals’ Matt McDonald, bass/vocals; Drew Watson, drums) that has been together since 2008.

Shot of Bliss is the band’s second release after an EP, and the 10 tracks are pleasant, youthful indie-pop that shows these young cats know how to write a tune. Most of the band’s songs have a languid catchiness that recalls Pavement and traces of Wilco and The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn’s storytelling acumen.

On tunes such as So Fine (You’re Mine) and the languid title track, Regas skips the expected melodrama of teen angst and girls-don’t-like-me complaints for wordy melodic monologues and third-person tales of folks still figuring it all out.

And, to show you they ain’t just some young punks raised on the Jonas Brothers, the band offers a cover of Alex Chilton/Big Star’s September Gurls though honestly the band doesn’t need to prove anything beyond its own budding talent.

Another up-tempo song or two like the bouncy Scrub the Floor would’ve provided a nice contrast to the mostly relaxed tempos on the album, but Shot of Bliss is a quite-good debut full-length record from a talented band of teens that is already ahead of many of its peers and worthy of watching as it grows.

Check out the Big Sweet for yourself (which may also be the only way to get the album) at the Beachland Tavern in Cleveland on Saturday with Cobra Verde or wait until July 3 when you can see the band open for Cracker (yeah, that Cracker) at Musica in Akron. - Akron Beacon Journal


"The Big Sweet- Shot of Bliss"

Shot of Bliss is the debut album from The Big Sweet, three sophomores at Jackson High School and a cousin from Cleveland. Don’t mind their ages though – these guys are rubbing elbows with bands from before they were born and have obviously logged a lot of hours in the garage (where did they find the time?!). The album opens with the fuzzy, catchy “Dress Up Your Mind” and a riff straight from the early ‘90s. Over its 10 songs, Shot of Bliss touches on a wide range of songwriting. Tracks like “Good & Down Youth”, an acoustic tune about the impending doom after graduation, and “Life of the Party” offers a bit of wisdom beyond the band’s years. There’s plenty of fun, though, such as the poppy charmer “Hold on Tight” and the closer “I’m Sold Out”, which builds up to a mighty climax of noise before ending the album on another of the great guitar lines found throughout. The Big Sweet cites influences like Pavement, Wilco and The Hold Steady. This album is a skillful collection of indie/art rock that should appeal to fans of any of the above. – Jim Reynolds - Buzzbin Magazine


"Local CD Review: Shot of Bliss"

While other teens use their first bands to work out girl troubles (plus maybe a dash of pre-voting-age political angst) with three-chord guitar bashing or emo-licious yelping, these 15-year-old boys from Canton and Cleveland jump right into their early-20s indie-rock stage for their sturdy, accomplished debut. The reference point here is Pavement, whose fractured, disjointed art-rock runs through Shot of Bliss' 10 songs. On "Dress Up Your Mind," singer-guitarist Sam Regas blows through his lines like Stephen Malkmus' bratty little brother. At times, the Big Sweet channel Wilco and other indie-rock signposts of the past 15 years, putting mood above all else. Only a mannered cover of Big Star's "September Gurls" sounds out of place. The Big Sweet save the best for last: Shot of Bliss' closer, "I'm Sold Out," builds over six minutes, eventually collapsing in a glorious heap of feedback and tangled noise. Just wait till these boys grow up. — Michael Gallucci

The Big Sweet open for Barrence Whitfield & the Monkey Hips at 9 p.m. Saturday, March 20, at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124, beachlandballroom.com). Tickets: $10. - Cleveland Scene Magazine


Discography

The Big Sweet EP- 2009
Shot of Bliss (LP)- 2010
Ultraviolet Rain (LP)- 2011
Bicycle Nights (LP)- 2013

"Somber Sighs" single (VIDEO HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZffB8jMsRjo)

Songs that have received radio play:
Somber Sighs
Dress Up Your Mind
So Fine (You're Mine)
Shot of Bliss
Life of the Party
September Gurls (cover)
Hold On Tight
I'm Sold Out
Laces
In and Out of Style
N-C
And You Wake

Songs that have been played on national television
I'm Sold Out- MLB Network

Photos

Bio

Most high school seniors may spend the morning of their prom day preparing their hair or possibly planning spots for photo shoots. In contrast, the four members of The Big Sweet spent the better half of this day on a nine hour car ride back to Ohio from their Daytrotter session in Iowa. In many ways, this seems to encapsulate the theme of The Big Sweet's history; they are teenagers whose quality of music continuously belies their young age (the members are all 19 at this point). Truth be told, with a near five year career, 3 recorded albums, numerous glowing reviews and 100 plus shows under their belt, the band's youthfulness is far from its most interesting characteristic.
Originating in the Northeast Ohio area, The Big Sweet are a rock band whose style draws from a wide variety of genres such as power pop, psychedelia, baroque music, and avant-garde. While the band has been likened to artists both new and old (Wilco, Big Star, XTC, Elliott Smith), The Big Sweet has constantly pushed to defy easy classification, to sound fresh if you will. The band has honed its chops by gigging relentlessly throughout Ohio at renowned venues in Cleveland (The Beachland Ballroom, House of Blues), Columbus (Rumba Cafe), Akron (Musica), and Canton (Palace Theater, Auricle). As such shows, the band has played with dozens of nationally touted artists such as The Front Bottoms, The Lemonheads, The Whigs, Ra Ra Riot, Will Hoge, and many more. Additionally, several radio stations (NPR's affiliate in Cleveland, 91.3 in Akron, CD 101 in Columbus) have consistently played The Big Sweet's music.
The band has released 2 albums--Shot of Bliss in 2010, Ultraviolet Rain in 2011-- to nearly universal critical acclaim. Indeed, outlets such as Popdose, Artist Direct, Cleveland Scene Magazine, Akron Beacon Journal, When You Motor Away, Absolute Power Pop, and many others have given the records (especially the latter) glowing reviews; several quotes from these press outlets are listed below at the article's end.
Building on the critical acclaim of Ultraviolet Rain, The Big Sweet are set to release their third full-length record, Bicycle Nights, in August. As singer/guitarist/songwriter Sam Regas says, "As 15 year olds, it was inevitable that our sound would very much be the summation of our influences. But with Bicycle NIghts, we really feel this is the reflection of our own musical identity. We put a massive amount of energy into these songs so, love it or hate it, this record-- more than anything we've recorded prior-- really is who we are." True, no longer mere fine emulators, The Big Sweet have confidently grown into truly innovative instigators in their own right. Now freshmen in college, The Big Sweet's personal maturation is strongly reflected by the vision of their music and growth in songwriting. Rich with harmonies, chiming guitars, orchestral splashes, and oddball arrangements, Bicycle Nights is as much a continuation of The Big Sweet's core melodic sound as it as an ambitious and complex step in a new musical direction. This is the band at its most representative, the record that truly shows The Big Sweet-- rounded out by Brad Berbari (guitar/keys), Matt McDonald (bass), and Drew Watson (drums)-- at their most strange and simultaneously alluring.

"They combine sweet pop with a dense, baroque approach and we are certainly impressed. Again"- When You Motor Away
"[Ultraviolet Rain] is the music that ought to be and will be the soundtrack of the life of a cool teenager trying to figure out what he wants to do with himself." -Popdose
"They come across as young bucks who have been listening to Big Star, The Replacements and Guided By Voices for decades…It's enough to make Robert Pollard want to give them a huge hug." -Daytrotter
"The Big Sweet plays carefully assembled, expertly arranged guitar pop the likes of which is supposed to be dead among their generation."- Columbus Alive
"The Ohio quartet creates sonic dreamscapes that are as easy to fall into as anything from The Pixies or Pavement…These lads could change the course of indie rock as they know it." -Artist Direct