Week 17: “By The Way” by Big Wreck

There are two things that Canadian musician Ian Thornley is really good at: rocking out and sounding like Chris Cornell. Songs like “So Far So Good” and “Inhale” are good examples of his ability to destroy eardrums with guitars, and most of the songs he put together with his late-90s band Big Wreck are…well… perfect for a band named Big Wreck. They’re big, and bring to mind a certain level of destruction.

This song is a nice little hidden gem from their first album, “In Loving Memory Of…”.  In fact, this song, in the context of the rest of the album, makes you realize that this band had less in common with Soundgarden than it did with Led Zeppelin, who would often sandwich quieter, folky acoustic songs between big-riff monsters.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The 7th. I’ve always liked the way that the 7th note of the scale, when played against a regular chord, lends an atmospheric, dreamy quality to a song. For just about the entire length of this song, they keep the 7th floating in the background, in the form of gentle guitar feedback.

2. The acoustic guitar. Yeah, it might be a bit too far forward in the mix, but that’s what you get when your lead singer also plays guitar. And it sounds good here. For some reason it makes me think of a field of golden wheat, although that probably doesn’t make any sense.

3. The percussion. It starts as a tiny Casio-esque drum kit, then builds to a nice echo-laden kit reminiscent of “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin.

Recommended listening activity:

Watching the tide come in.

Buy it here.