Song: Big American Problem
Drywall is fronted by the LA-based veteran singer/songwriter (and perpetually testifyin’ witness to strangeness) Stan Ridgeway. Decades after his quirky band Wall of Voodoo launched with its infectious hit song Mexican Radio, Ridgeway is still flinging intriguing, off-kilter songs out into the universe. This band includes his wife and long-time collaborator Pietra Wextun on keyboards. Big American Problem comes from Drywall’s first release, 1995’s Work The Dumb Oracle. The song has a stadium-sized production vibe - a huge, sparkling organ sound courtesy Wexstun opens things up and suddenly you’re strapped into a wild-eyed, faintly deranged mid-tempo driving song. The keyboard-driven melody and twitching, prickly instances of guitar combine to usher in Ridgway’s unmistakeable voice, with its dry, world-weary narrative of things gone somehow astray. It’s a great shambling monster of a number that’s thematically vague but which sounds like it ought to be hugely significant. And then, about three and a half minutes into this amped-up sturm und drang, Ridgeway unleashes a brief yet searing guitar solo that’s jubilant in its ornery abrasiveness… it’s like he’s channeling some fearsome, long-slumbering beast that’s awoken monumentally pissed. After going on for perhaps a smidgen too long (perhaps because there’s no Big American Answer in sight), the song fades out in a chaotic welter of slashing keyboards, with Ridgeway’s plaintive vocals drowning in swirling waves of reverb. Epic.
Check out youtube fan RustyJerome’s inventive, wickedly complementary video for the song. It gets a little preachy at the end as he overdubs some overt courtesy the famous 1960 Eisenhower Presidential speech on the American Military-Industrial Complex. But! It works.