(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, December 5, 2011

CD review - The Bluffkins, Songs You've Never Heard Of (2011)

Young band delivers interesting indie rock

Songs You've Never Heard Of is a new EP by the Bluffkins, out of Palm Harbor, FL. They're a young band and that youth is apparent from the scattershot style of the EP's seven songs. But despite a couple of minor missteps, they have a great indie rock sound that's worth checking out.

The opening song, Eastbound and Down, starts slow, using a recording session artifact as an intro. But once the song gets underway, the classic rock vibe quickly takes hold. The layered guitar parts remind me of the Henry Clay People. Sam Francis' confessional vocals convey a strength beneath the basic melancholy of the song. The lyrics feature some nice turns of phrase:
Eastbound and down, going nowhere, I'm a teacher of class clowns
She's back in town, living happily, with no one else around
East bound and down, well I can't be lost if I was never found
First to fail, best of worst, I'm a king without a crown
"First to fail, best of worst," I wish had had written that.

The next track, Letters From Space, continues the retro feel, this time with a glam sound like Mott the Hoople's Ian Hunter (one of Henry Clay People's bigger influences). This has a similar guitar structure as Eastbound, creating a thick, layered sound. Like many of the following songs, the lead vocals are doubled to fatten the mix. The drop out outro is beautiful with twinned guitar lines reaching out across an open musical space.

Cloud 9 changes up the sound to pick up some of the Guess Who's funky blues groove (No Sugar Tonight). The bass playing on this song, especially during the opening section, is perfect. There's a sweet moment at 1:56, where the verse starts with just the vocal and the bass. That's a punch they could have used more often.

From here, Songs You've Never Heard Of delivers a solid cover of John Mayer's Good Love Is On The Way, a chank beat flavored rocker, and a couple of good indie rock tracks. Of these, the closer, Jingo, is most interesting. A spoken intro (Winston Churchill) leads to a psychedelic rock drive.

Like any demo, Songs You've Never Heard Of shows off the Bluffkins' range. The writing and recording has matured compared to the music on their Reverbnation page, although Place I've Never Been is very catchy and Runaway (Kanye West) is an decent cover. Drop by iTunes and give the EP a listen; then buy a copy to encourage a young band bound for good things.

Thanks to Joseph G for turning me on to the Bluffkins.

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