Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Album Review: Where The Buffalo Roamed - A Wolf in the Works

Where the Buffalo Roamed

With sweeping narrations of the big sky American West and the socially removed yet complacent inhabitants surviving there, A Wolf in the Works is written and performed as an epic. Wonder filled plot lines and deeply drawn characters are thrashed about in a storm of reverberated electric guitar and washy drums producing a color pallet of imagery for places and times long forgotten by anyone except those who remain to gather the pieces of personal tragedies. Derived from a station wagon odyssey with his family across the sun drenched western plains as a teen, North Carolina native son Corbie Hill wrote the album not from personal experience, but as a near fiction biography of the ghosted personalities he either encountered or drove by in bewilderment of what life stretched between two mesas must feel like.

Track five "Isolation" most precisely embodies this intention as its forlorn victims lament "we don't check the mail any more, and I'm going to sell my guitar. It hasn't been played since nineteen eighty-seven." The lyrics alone are enough to send a knot to your throat but the truest emotion is derived from the tracks near mechanical, toothy, and hardened chord progressions which grind from start to end like the eternal specter of the song's subjects, caught between thought and action. The breadth of the track's range is as expansive as the time capsuled plains it sets stage in and echos the finality of a life spent in isolation. Track two "Missouri" is a run away favorite for its sheer story telling worth alone. The clouds are drawn and a foreboding shadow cast with the opening drama inducing lines while a simple two chord rhythm angrily simmers from Hill's guitar. So full of visual cues that you are cast into its dreamscape to experience first hand the punishment of both its villians and victims alike, so drugged with distortion bent guitar that you could just as easily glaze over and pretend evil only exists on the news. "Crossing the Missouri" deviates from the faded and reflective candor of the album in favor of a gritty and saturated blues rock riff stomping with enough attitude that Jack White might even take notice if it passed him by.

The album has the look and feel of lo-fi tempered recording, but the right pedal effects, drum fills, and backing instruments plugged in at all the right places prove that Where the Buffalo Roamed spared no effort in production. The writing is penetrating with no shortage of emotional moments and no loss for guitar licks to emphasize them. This is a true to form garage rock album built the way garage rock is supposed to look and heard the way its supposed to sound. --Carrboro Ninja

post script
Where The Buffalo Roamed plays this Friday October, 29th 2010 at Sadlack's 2116 Hillsborough Street Street next to NC State campus along with Battlestar Canada and Once and Future Kings. Show time is 7 PM and free.

Where the Buffalo Roamed

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