Archive for the ‘Buffalo Tom’ Category


If Buffalo Tom’s first album was a kind of punky Hüsker Dü album (which I contend it was), their second album switches gears towards the Afghan Whigs.  In other words, they still have a raw punky feel, but they’ve added more textures and melodies to the proceedings.

And while Janovitz’ voice is still loud and bold, rather than the screamy sound of say Bob Mould, he’s got a more nuanced sound like Greg Dulli (for some of the disc, anyway).  I notice this especially on the second track “Skeleton Key” which sounds like it could be an outtake from an Afghan Whigs session (it’s not as a good as a typical Whigs song, however).  You can hear more of those Dulli-notes on “The Guy Who is Me.”

The songwriting is somewhat more comlex overall.  The title track “Birdbrain” is catchy not only in the verse, but the chorus is a wonderful surpise–really redirecting the momentum of the song.  Despite some variants in texture and pacing, the disc still retains that raw punk sound of the first.

The album feels kind of long to me, though (and not because there are two acoustic songs tacked on at the end).  At almost 5 minutes, “Enemy” is way too long.  And by the end of the album, some of the sameiness that was eveident on the debut has crept into this disc as well.  The last few songs in particualr seem to have a lot of that screaming voice over a fairly simple riff thing going on.

The cover of the Psyhedeclic Furs’ “Heaven” in a live aocustic setting is a nice change, but really should have been laced around track 7 or 8 to minimize redundancy.  The last track is a live acoustic version of the tenth song off their first album.  How odd to resurrect a very deep album cut in this way.  But, again, at almost 5 minutes (two minutes longer than the original), it just doesn’t hold up.

There are signs of change here, but they won’t become fully evident until their next album, Let Me Come Over.

[READ: July 29, 2011] “Reverting to a Wild State”

This story plays around with a timeline, but not in a crazy way–in other words, the story is out of sequence, but it’s not a gimmick.

In Part 3, we see the narrator “cleaning” a rich man’s apartment, in his underwear.  We have no real context for him or what he’s doing, but it’s an amusing little section, and ends with him seeming content.

In Part 2, we see the narrator fighting with Justin, the man who we learn was his boyfiorned.  They broke up, but are in a diner having what seems like a final hash-out. (more…)

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After listening to the new Buffalo Tom song, I decided to go back and reappraise their back catalog.  This first album was produced by J. Mascis, and a lot of reviews talk about the album sounding very Dino Jr.  But I have to say that rather than Dino Jr, I hear Hüsker Dü.  There’s some big loud choruses and, to me, the vocals sound much more like any of the screamier Hüsker Dü songs than anything Dino did.

There are a couple of songs that have the catchy urgency of Hüsker Dü, but for the most part the disc feels like it’s all urgency, with little in the way of songcraft.  There are elements of something here but it feels underdeveloped, especially compared to their later releases (an unfair comparison, I suppose).

 It’s also a surprise to hear just how punky this is when as recent as their next album, they would be far less abrasive.  I don’t dislike the album, but it didn’t leave a very big impact on me.

[READ: July 18, 2011] “Wendy Mort & I”

Bradford has a second story published by Nerve.com.  This one, while again featuring a rollicking sex scene (more explicit than your average short story) ultimately also went in an unexpected direction.

The narrator is dating an actress named Wendy.  Wendy is not so much an actress as an “actress.”  The narrator first sees her in an experimental play in which she is naked for the entire second act.  He’s pretty psyched to have this naked woman right next to him after their second date.  In fact, sex is the bulk of the beginning of the story,  Their relationship is very physical.  In the beginning, he is expressly forbidden to go without a condom.  But later in the story, there’s an intense scene where they have sex without one.

Now the gun on the wall must go off by the end of the story, right?  And yet this one doesn’t (minor spoiler).  The story does not focus on anything that could go wrong without using a condom–in some ways its nice that the condomless sex is all about pleasure.  (Of course, this is for nerve.com, which is all about sexual pleasure). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BUFFALO TOM: “Guilty Girls” (2011).

Holy cow, Buffalo Tom!  I more or less forgot about these guys (who I really liked back in the 90s).  Some of their songs from that period are fantastic.  They never had any major success, but they had a series of great releases.  Evidently they reformed a few years ago and released a reunion album.  And now, in 2011, they have a brand new record.  Wow.

I haven’t listened to them in a few years, (although their albums covers are still very fresh in my head).  But I listened to a few older songs for comparison’s sake.  To me the biggest difference between Tom in 1999 and Tom in 2011 is that the singer now sounds even more like Elvis Costello.  Bill Janovitz has always had a strong baritone voice, but with a few extra years thrown on, it has maturity that it lacked back then (not that it needed it, but the songs are more mature lyrically now, and the voice fits it well). 

This song is a kind of punky (poppy punk, but still punky) rocking anthem.  It’s under three minutes and it aims for mega catchiness.

[READ: July 18, 2011] “The Orderly

Having read the brief story by Arthur Bradford in Five Dials, I realized that I knew the name and decided to see what else I had read by him. It wasnt much, but I enjoyed what I’d read.  I decided to look him up and discovered that he really only wrote one book, a short story collection called Dogwalker, before switching media to TV (and a show called How’s Your News?).

On his website, he has links to a number of published stories (fiction and non-); since the Esquire pieces have been collected in his book, there’s really only three unique fiction stories available here.  So i decided to read them all.

Now Nerve.com was a site for “literate smut.”  I remember when it came out and it was somewhat revolutionary in the sex world because it tried to raise the bar of quality and to include some decent writers.  I didn’t actually know that nerve.com was still active (it is, and there’s some really good stuff there).  As such, I feel like perhaps the stories at nerve aren’t entirely top-notch.  Not Penthouse forum, mind you, but not Hemingway either. (more…)

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