Thursday, March 13, 2014

Buffalo Killers - Heavy Reverie - Radio Ready, Willing, and Able

Buffalo Killers are back with Heavy Reverie, and they're going for the throat with a record that should situate the band for full throttle rock stardom. They've brought along a new label (Sun Pedal Recordings - Warner Music Group), a new producer (the legendary Jim Wirt), and hell, they even mixed it on the Neve console that gave birth to Michael Jackson's Thriller demos.

Poisonberry Tide busts out sounding like a hard rock R.E.M. - Peter Buck always wanted to make a real hard rock record with Dayton's own Robert Pollard (Guided By Voices), and I gotta think it may have sounded much like this. Killer riffing and a lovely melody that floats over the top like a dream. The Gabbard brothers' trademark harmonies come in on the pop radio ready choruses, and it's time to take the top down and accelerate. I don't know what's on the radio these days, but this sure as hell should be.

Zach Gabbard's bass riffs are as big as the man himself, and his easily identifiable voice is back for Dig On In - if he'd been around for the end of the sixties, he's have had his own jet airplane and been at Woodstock. This is hard, heavy rock, and Andy Gabbard tears off yet another guitar hero, fuzz drenched solo. At 2:21 this one's great, just over too soon.

This Girl Has Grown is a driving slice of sumptuous and fuzzy pop - even with the four to the floor beat, and the distort guitars, this is smooth as silk. New guy Sven Khans adds some nice textures in the rhythm guitar department, and drummer Joseph Sebaali is picture perfect as ever. Not a fancy, technical drummer, Sebaali is all about the band, and all about the songs.

Sugary, sweet melodies make this rock solid record much more than just another indie rock outing. The Gabbards are writers first, and all those lessons they learned early on are here on display. However, that being said, Heavy Reverie is a very contemporary sounding record, and much less of a seventies throwback than the band's earlier efforts. Cousin Todd is clean, tight, and plenty punchy. Khans is on pedal steel here, and it's a great texture to add to this Petty-esque rocker.

Heavy Reverie is a very clean, pristine recording - not to say sterile, but in-tune, in-time, and very well produced. Sandbox is filled with cool effect laden guitars, and airy harmonies. Andy Gabbard takes a nice skittish guitar solo that sounds like he's trying to see how much he can inflict on the long neck of his Gibson Firebird and keep it in tune, until he renders it silent in a puddle of feedback at the tune's glorious ending.

Zach is back with Who You Are, and it's a great slab of psychedelic rock that goes a bit 'Too Much To Dream Last Night,' in places (in the best way), and he takes it from hard rock to a spacey, Lynchian soundtrack. These guys are great at avoiding anything that approaches cliche - they sound familiar, but always a bit new and strange. Nice, tight harmony guitars make this one an enjoyable slice of ear candy.

Grape Peel (How I Feel) sticks with the program as the rhythm section keeps this one moving while the chunky guitars keep the band's feet firmly on the ground. The guitars are super fuzzy, but never muddy - hats off to producer Jim Wirt for keeping it easy on the ears, but still very rocking.

Buffalo Killers often take me back to a time when it was an honor for a band to be called a 'boogie band' - the early seventies were filled with them, and yeah, I miss the unapologetic sledge hammer rock that made bands like Foghat such a joy. Louder Than Your Lips rocks like mad, and there's some sizzling slide guitars, and a stinging solo that will have you getting that guitar out from under your bed and playing along.

Shake will have you running back to check out your Flamin' Groovies collections. Maybe even a little bit of middle period solo Clapton in the verses - these guys are absolute masters of mixing up a blender full of influences and making you scratch your head wondering, where? You'll get it when you hear it, believe me....

Melody brought us in, and it shows us the door with January, a smooth bit of harmony and chorused steel guitars that is a bit darker when you listen to the words, but it still makes you happy. Zach's circular bass pattern keeps Joseph turning the beat this way and that, and while they never really show off Buffalo Killers are killers of the coolest kind.

Another killer album from a band who makes making music as easy as a summer afternoon.

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