Monday, March 7, 2011

Buffalo Tom album review

Available on March 8:
Buffalo Tom
Grade: B+

In recent years, we’ve seen several reunions by acts who came to prominence during the early Nineties alternative rock boom (Pavement, the Pixies, STP, Soundgarden, Faith No More). Yet few have actually put out new studio albums like Buffalo Tom.

Early on, the Boston band made noisy, guitar-driven music a la Dinosaur Jr. Their sound later incorporated folk and pop elements and college/modern rock radio latched onto the earnest singles “Sodajerk” and “Taillights Fade.” After keeping a low profile for most of the next decade (except sporadic shows), the trio ended a long recording hiatus in ‘07 with solid album Three Easy Pieces.

Skins is an equally impressive effort, where the lyrics delve into deeper life issues (raising children, immortality). Lead singer/guitarist Bill Janovitz wrote ten tracks, while bassist/singer Chris Colbourn contributed four.

Aggressive rocker “Lost Weekend” finds Janovitz delivering a seething vocal and the intensely brooding “Down” features wicked guitar work. Tanya Donelly (Belly, Throwing Muses) - another prominent ‘90s music maker from New England – adds honeyed vocals to the countrified gem “Don’t Forget Me.” On the ruminative, Tom Waits-styled “Paper Knife,” Janovitz is quietly effective, while the upbeat power pop-leaning “Guilty Girls” could be a summit meeting between a young Elvis Costello and Guided by Voices.

Meanwhile, Colbourn’s melancholy, organ/violin-enhanced “Hawks & Sparrows” charmingly describes a guy that dreams of actress Mia Farrow; his humorous “Miss Barren Brooks” revolves around superficiality and getting stuck in a rut. All told, another fine display of rock authenticity.

Buffalo Tom's U.S. tour dates:

8   Boston – Paradise
13 Minneapolis - Varsity Theater
14  Chicago - Lincoln Hall
28 New York City – Bowery Ballroom
29 Philadelphia -- M Room
30 Washington, D.C. -- The Black Cat
17 San Francisco -- Slim's
18 West Hollywood -- Troubadour
19 Portland -- Doug Fir
20 Seattle -- Chop Suey

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