RECORD REVIEW : Getting in Grunge Groove

** 1/2

Just Plain Big

"Sandbox"

Sea Foam Green

*

Just Plain Big, from Newport Beach, is just plain infectious on this three-song vinyl release. There's nothing fancy in its fast, catchy songs informed by a roughhouse, garage-rocking spirit.

The A-side, "Slave," is a heavy-handed attempt at a satiric knock on Madonna for being a tiresome, inescapable exhibitionist ("Your dad and I wish you'd become a nun" is about as witty as it gets), but the execution, which recalls the cheeky side of They Might Be Giants, makes it worth a spin.

On the flip side, the anxious romanticism of "Your Mind" (with its echoes of the Yardbirds' "For Your Love") and "Justine" make for more interesting songs, but JPB is too naturally buoyant to let love woes get in the way of a good, rockin' time.

The main attractions are the lead guitar work, in which pealing solos and neat little fills crop up everywhere yet never fail to push the songs forward, and the ensemble vocal work, which is anything but polished but always fits.

"Sandbox" leaves it an open question whether Just Plain Big has much dimension to offer (can it play slow tempos, for instance?), but if a band can only do one thing, it ought to be something zestful like this.

(Available from Sea Foam Green Records, 205 Cedar St., Newport Beach, CA 92663.)

* Just Plain Big plays on a local-band bill Jan. 27 at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano. (714) 496-8930. Ratings range from * (poor) to **** (excellent), with three stars denoting a solid recommendation.

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