Saturday, 11 June 2011
Buffalo Death Beam - Salvation for Ordinary People
There is a battle being fought to occupy the top of Harmony Hill. After a punk and 80s synth war-hiatus, recent holders Fleet Foxes - having ousted previous combatants Simon and Garfunkel, Beach Boys, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and The Eagles - now face an onslaught from the relatively unsung but harmonising singing strength of Washington band of seven Buffalo Death Beam.
This advancing army of mandolin, violin, fiddle, banjo and reverb guitar - transported on a Grace Slick-like vocal lead of Tiffiny Harms and the key harmonising and other lead vocal of Curt Krause - is a powerful opponent. Instrumentally adept, the vocal harmonising fires missiles of serious intent, and its secret weaponry is in the mirroring tuneage of the violin on so many of the projectile songs.
Battle opener Staff of the Shepherd carries the band's banner with its advancing route expertly reconnoitred and mapped out, and its Fleet Foxes echo is the secret infiltration. But that twinkling mandolin gives the band's nuance away, and it's a bold manoeuvre. Motel Queen displays a rockier march, whilst Lonely Mouth crawls under the wire with the deceiving lure of its plaintive violin lulling the opposition to tenderness. There are so many clever and effective details in this distinctive move. Closing song Madmen Choir packs mandolin, banjo, fiddle and detonating harmonies into its shell for a final flailing fling. What a wonderful explosion.
A great album that really does deserve much more attention when it occupies the peak.