Friday, December 18, 2009

Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo - Phobiaphilia EP

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Artist Website: Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo on Myspace
Netlabel Website: Copyleft Records

Track list:

1 - Bookend I (In The Beginning)
2 - Mayfly Life
3 - Fuck!
4 - All In This Together Now
5 - Hey Luanne
6 - Three Wonderful Nights
7 - Bookend II (In The End)

Download links: [MP3] [FLAC] [Torrent]

I have a love/hate relationship with singer-songwriters. On the one hand, any idiot can pick up a guitar, learn three chords and write a sappy love song. It's artists like these that make me want to recreate the infamous guitar stairway scene from Animal House. On the other hand, some of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard have come from singer-songwriters. Strangely enough, some of these talented artists don't utilize anything more complicated than the aforementioned three chords, and if they can make it work that way, then why add more? Such is the case of Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo and his debut record, Phobiaphilia EP.

The record consists of Byron Hulcher (the real name of Buffalo x 3) by himself, singing and playing his acoustic guitar. The music is a cross between the acoustic melodies of traditional singer-songwriters and the frantic strumming traditionally found in punk rock. In fact, Mr. Hulcher has said that he drew the inspiration for this album from listening to Plan-It-X records (a label that produces similar music). While some may initially think that the lack of backing instruments might leave a punk rock outfit sounding rather bare, in this instance it works beautifully. Each song tells a different story of love, loss, and hope, and the single acoustic guitar is more than enough to carry the message home to the listeners.

The opening and closing tracks (Bookend I (In The Beginning) and Bookend II (In The End)) aren't the strongest on the album, but are quite fitting considering their names. Each of the following songs deal with specific topics that all teens worry about and some actually experience. Mayfly Life discusses HIV, Fuck! is obviously about teenage anger and feeling isolated and alone, while All In This Together Now is about sticking with those close to you and persevering through good times and bad. Hey Luanne deals with teen pregnancy, and Three Wonderful Nights touches on drug use.

There are many reasons why people might not enjoy this album as much as I did, like Byron's voice, the fast-paced guitar riffs, or the subject material, but I fell in love with this album from the first listen. I can't tell you if the experiences the singer talks about really happened to him, but he performs them in such an honest way that I'd be shocked if they didn't. Here's to hoping that Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo decides to release a full-length in the future, and that it maintains the bare-bones, honest feel of Phobiaphilia EP.

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