As The Buffalo Riot prepare to launch their new album at Buyers Club, Getintothis’ Paul Fitzgerald joined them in the studio for a playback.
The Buffalo Riot have almost gleefully kept themselves outside of the box marked ‘Liverpool bands’ since their beginnings in 2009. It’s simply never been a party they wanted to attend, not an existence they cherished or relished, thanks very much. Regular gigging, though, and a focus on the songs have always been the order of the day, so you won’t have seen them falling into that week’s favoured coffee shop, or out of that week’s favoured hipster craft beer gaffs, or on that week’s favoured guest lists. Such has their need been to concentrate on the music, the rehearsals, the writing and the recording. The whole point of being in a band in the first place. Well, to them, anyway. Others might not agree.
As a consequence, they’re a formidable live prospect, always were, and now, with the release of new album Pale Blue Oceans, they’ve not only delivered a lesson in pure songwriting, but brought it to the table with a bravery and an admirable sense of honesty, and a big, real big, we mean really big sound, and the coming launch night at Buyers Club subsequently holds much promise.
A full twelve months in the making, Pale Blue Oceans brings us a band taking on a new sound, a bigger, deeper, wider sound. In a slight step away from their characteristic Americana/Country rock sound, it’s an unashamed nod to the mainstream. They’ve lent something of a focus to the big 80s style production techniques of people like Steve Lillywhite or Bob Clearmountain and bands such as Talk Talk and Tears For Fears.
Guitar heavy, and laden with intricate six string folds and lifts, it’s a deep and wide production, layered with their trademark, the sweet, sun drenched natural soul to be found in the west coast harmonies of songwriters Ben Singleton and Iain Morley. There are some voices that are meant to be paired together, and these two are a perfect example of the maxim. A naturality that requires no effect, no push. It just is.
And the songs. There’s a bravery in the writing, the sound of souls being bared, questions asked, and answers to be sought. Human relationships. The truth, pain, hope, emotion and honesty. The connect and the disconnect. The now and the then. Themes of love and life we all think of, but don’t necessarily verbalise in the way we’d hope to. On a personal level, they’ve taken some hits along the way, and there’s no fear, no shame in talking about it.
We find tales of modern day urban English life here, materialised as Neo- Country, or Neon Country, as they would call it. There’s so much honesty to be found here, not only individually, in songs such as title track Pale Blue Oceans or Water In Your Blood, but also as a whole, in the album’s flow as a single piece. On first listen, it’s over way too soon, and leaves you wanting to return to each theme, each build and chorus, and to hang on every word once more. Yet each subsequent hearing brings something else, new levels, something extra, deeper depths. All good signs, as we know all too well. The essence of a great record.
Twelve full months in the studio, working this collection together, notwithstanding, it’s live when these songs and this band come into their own. The dynamics, nuances, and the power, the rich harmonies, lifts and the drops, are where they excel, and the ease and skill in which their songs are realised, lived out even, more than proves this band’s worth. Not that they’ve ever felt the need to do so. Why would they?
On May 14, Buyers Club will become Neon Country central for the launch of this great record. Support will come from Seafoam Green (frontman Dave O’Grady having recently returned from touring with The Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson), and there’ll be a DJ set from our very own psych darlings of this parish, The Sundowners. All the makings of a night to be remembered, and they’ve given us a Getintothis exclusive here, with the title track of the album, Pale Blue Oceans.