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

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Recording review - Buffalo Killers, Dig Sow, Love, Grow (2012)

Unselfconsciously retro, it's a rich throwback to the early '70s

The early '70s were a fertile hot zone. All the disparate musical shards of the hippie '60s -- folk, pop psychedelia, acid rock, and blues -- were starting to slide together into interesting combinations. Bands like Bad Company, the Band, and the James Gang created sounds that were anchored in rock yet soared into cool directions.

Buffalo Killers are throwbacks to that time. Dig, Sow, Love, Grow could have dropped in 1972 or '73 and it would have fit in just fine. Rather than reproducing the retro vibe of the era, Buffalo Killers seem utterly unselfconscious about their sound. The album has a melange of almost familiar sounds: the Led Zeppelin opening to Get It that slides into a bluesy rock jam, the 13th Floor Elevators garage psychedelia of Hey Girl, the lazy folky groove of The Band on Blood On Your Hands, or heavy Joe Walsh punch of Those Days. Lazy tempos give the heady guitar riffs plenty of room to meander.

Joe Walsh seems to be the strongest influence, pulling bits of James Gang funky jams and Barnstorm era rock to permeate several of the tracks. Buffalo Killers capture his rhythm guitar sound and even a bit of his voice. Brothers Andrew and Zachary Gabbard voices find their home base somewhere between Walsh's tone and Ozzie Osbourne's yowl.

Despite all the comfortable musical elements, Dig, Sow, Love, Grow feels more like cross-pollination than a derivative exercise. Each listen turns up a new favorite track. Early on, I was caught up by Get It. The simple staccato keyboard part offsets the warm overdriven guitar tone. The bluesy solo had a wicked tone that perfectly wrapped up the whole package.

Later, Farewell stood out. It starts with a beautiful descending line that balances the bass and guitar. This develops into a rich sound that drifts between delicate psychedelia and a thicker handed folk rock. It's a thoughtful song right up until the more discordant finish that signals a kind of emotional surrender.

Right now, I've dropped deeper into the garage psych with Mysun. The folky rhythm reminds me a little of Pink Floyd's Free Four. It's got a sunny, open feeling.

Buffalo Killers may have spent some time buried in their parent's music collections, but it was clearly time well spent.

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