Thursday, November 15, 2007

Reviews:: Buck 65 - Situation

I like this album. That is all. Review over, move along now. I kid of course, as this wouldn't be the hill if I didn't waffle on at length about this and that or nothing in particular (oh I haven't forgot about you magnum mosquito or you Doogie Howitzer, if those are even your real names) during my reviews. But I'm just so happy that the pride of Mount Uniacke, Richard Terfry, has produced such an enjoyable new album. Why so happy you ask? Well being a longtime fan of Rich's and in general, of all things Halifax and surrounding area, I was dismayed by some of the things Rich's last formal long-player (Secret House Against The World) made me write.

This kind of thing:

Seriously, the word "eclectic" can only be stretched so far before the more accurate description becomes "weird crap". And this is Buck 65's "weirdest" album to date, and that's saying something considering he's written songs about a half-horse/half-man porno star and about the proper way to give a shoe shine.

So I'm very happy I won't have to write that kind of thing about this album. As I mentioned a couple months ago, I'd heard that Skratch Bastid was producing the majority of Situation, and so my hopes were raised that some kind of return to hip hop form was in the cards for Rich. I'm happy to say the album has met my expectations. It does indeed feature Buck in a more hip hop milieu then he's been for years, rapping over drum-based beats that are augmented nicely by live instrumentation. It even seems like he's retired the old-man rapping voice he'd become so reliant on for his last couple records. Well, for the most part it's retired, it seems to sneak in now and again.

With this album, Buck has finally gotten himself back into a situation (c'maaan, that name is ripe for punage, I needed to get one in) which features him at his best. He's always been a man who loves themes, as the Riverbed series of songs about houseboat life on Talkin' Honky Blues illustrates. I think it's safe to say Buck would certainly get a very high grade from Moe Dee for sticking to themes. Musically, Skratch Bastid, with help from longtime Buck collaborator Charles Austin and other Halifax musicians like Andrew Glencross, produce an album full of tracks that are more than catchy enough to hold the listeners interest, but still give Buck space to do his thing.

The first time through the album, I was hoping that the chunky drums and scratches of Buck's name and "1957" in the intro were an indication of what was to come. As you might gather from the review thus far, they were indeed. 1957 is the first proper song on the album, and it's a tremendous way to kick things off. Scratchy, smacking drums and an addictive piano loop provide the backdrop for Buck's ode to all things 1957. Thelonious Monk, Brooklyn Dodgers, Chevy Bel Airs, Pink Flamingos, and Bobby Fischer. You name it, it's in there. Dang is just dang catchy with it's surf-rock inspired beat and crazy "dang diggy dang da dang dang dang" chorus. If you're hoping there's a song on the album told from the perspective of a 50's pinup and fetish photographer, then Shutter Buggin' is for you.

Ho-Boys instantly becomes the catchiest song I know about hobos. It is also the only rap song I know with a bindle-stick reference. Bonus points for that. The psychedelic keyboards of Way Back When make it a standout even before the excellent scratch breakdown near the end of the song. I honestly have no idea what Cop Shades is about, but it has an excellent trumpet riff provided by herohill favorite David Myles, and I haven't been able to get the "Cop Shades!" bit from the chorus out of my head for the last week. The Rebel has some tasty guitar licks and a standout drum loop which Buck uses to good effect in painting a portrait of a James Dean-style 50's rebel.

I'm hoping this album does big business for our old friend Buck 65, it certainly should. It's a cohesive, enjoyable listen, pretty much from start to finish - something you couldn't really say about Buck 65's last couple releases. Unlike his last album, which would be daunting for a new listener to dive into, I think this is the kind of album people unfamiliar with Buck will really be able to get in to. So new and old Buck listeners, check out Situation today.

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Posted at 9:00 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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