Big Bunny EP by Alaska Reid album review by Adam Williams for Northern Transmissions

Terrible Records

8

Alaska Reid

Big Bunny EP

After being around since her teens, playing shows in her native Montana, relocating to Los Angeles and then recording in New York, Alaska Reid is stepping away from her band project, Alyeska and out on her own for the first time. ‘Big Bunny EP’ is what Reid summarises as “a diary of my life”, a collection of songs that have been in the works for significant period and one that chronicles the singer/songwriter’s evolution:

“I’ve been scuttling around the scene since I was 14, first as an Americana/country chick and then as a band chick, and now I’m arriving at a more unfiltered self. Some of these songs have grown with me. I’m excited to release them because the lyrics mean something to me, but also because it’s been a long time in the works”.

Across the EP’s 9 tracks, it certainly feels like we’re being ushered into a private world Reid inhabits; a place
where she bares her vulnerabilities and insecurities around relationships, both plutonic and romantic. Sonically, ‘Big Bunny’ is an amalgamation of disparate soundscapes “a little Joni Mitchell meets Dinosaur Jr.” in some cases. Mixed in with the fuzzed up, rough ‘n’ ready tuning and bruised, yet angelic vocals, songs are bestowed with electronic elements that coalesce and fragment via drum machine clacks and digital flickers.

The EP’s eponymous track gets the ball rolling, via programmed beats and tense strumming, our protagonist’s vocals reach just above a whisper as she murmurs “I did not mean to disappoint you”. The tension is finally broken by a monstrous wall of gnawing alt-rock/shoegaze guitar (that’ll be the Dinosaur Jr. comparison then!), which decimates the ethereal tones with something more visceral. Whilst the EP doesn’t delve as deep again into guttural guitar play, it still offers up copious amounts of fuzz. ‘Quake’, like the EP’s opener, begins with a set of low key beats and delicate nuances before a liberal dollop of scuzzy fretwork injects some noise and added pace to the song’s dying moments. It’s here where Reid touches on matters of the heart and how the course of true love isn’t without it’s bumps in the road “I know he’s kind of rough but girls like you and I shouldn’t have to hang tough”. Cut from similar cloth is ‘Boys From Town’, where a coarse rock chug is offset by an alt-pop undercurrent.

Elsewhere on ‘Big Bunny’ subtly is key; layered vocals rub up alongside delicate piano refrains and an omnipresent drum-machine set of driven beats is never far away. ‘Warm’s nocturnal moan finds Reid reflecting on being dislocated from her surroundings “I don’t feel like I have a lot of friends/my mom says you’ve got to learn to pretend”, while ‘Oblivion’s emotional tones set the scene around a relationship that’s built on shaky ground “maybe I can breathe better without you” and “I’m in love with a ghost of the past” typify how Reid reflects on days gone by but with a tinge of catharsis to help cleanse her. ‘Mermaid Tears’ strips everything back to a vulnerable core of Reid’s clipped vocals and a raw acoustic strum, with the singer’s lyrics matching the rawness of the sonics, she’ll recount “the only man I tried to save dragged me down” with the weariness of someone who regrets their actions.

It’s said that Reid took inspiration for ‘Big Bunny’ from ‘The Golden Compass’s lead character Lyra and her daemon companion “when I was younger I wanted a bunny so bad that I would chase after wild rabbits, trying to catch them. I was obsessed and convinced myself that if I could catch one that I would have this magical connection with it like Lyra”. Not unlike the popular book/film, ‘Big Bunny’ feels like it straddles different realms, while being enchanting, familiar and otherworldly all at the same time. It’s a journey worth taking.

order Big Bunny EP by Alaska Reid here