Hector Ward & the Big Time

Smile Into Life (Blackfinger Records)

Texas Platters

Marked by an adventurous and unbridled local recording streak, Hector Ward & the Big Time boasts brass-boom bursts, hot riffs, and Godzilla-sized vocals. All those ingredients garnered the Austin big band acclaim and even legendary producer Bob Johnston (Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Simon & Garfunkel) overseeing 2016's Evolution: Live at the Saxon Pub. Yet for every titan throbs an Achilles heel, and bottling the boisterous energy of the Latin, funk, and blues genres in a studio remains a difficult feat on the group's third studio album. Following in the footsteps of sophomore album Sum of All (2011), Smile Into Life demonstrates a heady exposé of the eightpiece band's talent in serving up a genre smörgåsbord of no-war reggae ennui ("Simplify"), wah-wah and delay pedal psychedelia ("Fire Gypsy"), acoustic-jangled country ("Sidewalk's Ends"), and a funky, big brass blitz via "Live and Livin'." Whereas the 22-track Evolution pivots on improv, this follow-up can't capture that corporeal nuance. Strutted notes in the former turn to metronome sterility on the latter. That said, Smile Into Life beams an expert sampler of Hector Ward's life force funk-n-roll even if it can't capture the group's live lightning strike.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Hector Ward & the Big Time
Texas Platters
Hector Ward & the Big Time
Evolution (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Oct. 21, 2016

Texas Platters
Hector Ward & the Big Time
Sum of All (Record Review)

Jim Caligiuri, June 3, 2011

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Guy Forsyth & Jeska Bailey
Conspirators (Record Review)

Reid Jowers, Sept. 27, 2019

Texas Platters
The Texas Horns
Get Here Quick (Record Review)

Jay Trachtenberg, Sept. 20, 2019

More by Alejandra Ramirez
Review: Never, <i>No Guarantee</i>
Review: Never, No Guarantee
No Guarantee (Record Review)

Sept. 1, 2023

Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Jess Williamson, Ondara, Cherubs, Blushing, and more recommended shows

June 9, 2023


Hector Ward & the Big Time

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle