The Glory Days - Album Review

February 11th, 2014

One of my favorite artists is Jimmy Hinson, better known online as Big Giant Circles. His latest album, The Glory Days, goes on sale February 14, but as a kickstarter backer, I’ve been listening to it for a few days already.

Let me begin by saying this: The album is fantastic. 5 Stars. Amazing. Wonderful listen. Two thumbs up. “It’s better than good, it’s better.”

Now let’s talk specifics.

As an artist, BGC has a unique style and a number of specific go-to techniques. If you are familiar with his work, you’ll hear songs reminiscent of Impostor Nostalgia, the Extreme Road Trip 2 OST, the Pocket Mine OST, and Contingency.

If you’re not familiar with his work, he’s most often described as a chiptune-style artist, though his music is a lot more than 8-bit beeps and chirps. At first listen you might find some of his music noisy and chaotic, but it’s actually quite deliberate and amazingly layered. Think Hans Zimmer, but with techno drums and replace the horns and strings with more synths. Driving beats, soaring melodies, a wonderful mix of feel-good tunes.

One thing I like about BGCs work is that rather than remix video game songs (though he does that too) his music is original, but he weaves famous game melodies into them. The song pays homage to Hinson’s musical roots rather than a straight remix or re-imagining of the old tune.

As my good friend Bob Martens put it: “I liked how they were woven into the chaos around them.”

If you are familiar with the games and genres, you’ll no doubt be able to pick up hints of Mario, Zelda, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, and probably a few others I haven’t been able to piece together yet.

Track 4, A Rose in a Field, has a hat tip to Zelda’s Lullaby, after a beautifully mellow lead up that lasts for a couple of minutes.

The Glory Days, and The Chiptune Legacy tracks pull a few tricks out of the Mario playbook, both melodically and with a few sound effects.

Unlike Impostor Nostalgia, The Glory Days features a number of slower paced songs, much more along the lines of Mass Effect, or BGCs Max Effect and Legacy albums. Right now I can’t stop listening to Snowcones, which is a bit less frantic than, say, Vindicate Me.

Occasionally I have heard people say that BGCs music is a bit repetitive or many of his songs sound similar. I don’t think this is an unfair assessment, but I also don’t think it’s bad. It’s true, if you’re not paying full attention some of the songs can blend together though that also speaks to his consistency of style and the unity of his albums. Also, the same could be said for a lot of music.

Which brings me to my favorite feature of the album, the last 8 tracks are loop-able versions of the earlier songs. You can put them on repeat and listen to your favorite melodies for hours on end, without ever hearing them stop.

Personally, I find both Glory Days and Impostor Nostalgia to be perfect albums to crank the volume on, lean back, relax, close your eyes, and let the music wash over you. A means of musical meditation, if you will.

The Glory Days is a worthy successor to Impostor Nostalgia. Hinson continues to grow and improve as a musician. The new album sounds a bit more mature, compositionally, to me than some of his earlier work. Which only goes to make me more excited for his future endeavors.

I’m admittedly quite the BGC fanboy, but and so it will be no surprise that I highly recommend the album. Right now you can pre-order it on bandcamp, where you can listen to a few select tracks to whet your appetite for the upcoming release. After it is released I’m sure it will also be available on iTunes, Amazon, and wherever else he likes to sell his music.