The Budos Band

Budos Band

My metal-loving and -practitioning brother-in-law (who just became a father — congrats, Brian!) sometimes uses a word that I’ve always understood but hadn’t learned to fully appreciate until this weekend.

“Riffy.”

Technically speaking, I’ve known the definition of the word “riff” for years. As an awkward early teenager milling about the guitar store, unsuccessfully giving off the vibe that “No, of course my mom didn’t drive me here,” wanting to touch and play everything but not wanting the other millers-about to know how few chords I knew — riffiness was everywhere. In that situation, you are the riff and the riff is you. People are loudly showing off their “Crazy Train”s and their “Enter Sandman”s — the phrases everyone’s ears know. I can remember feeling jealous about not being able to play those riffs. It didn’t matter that the slightly older teenagers playing them didn’t write them. The power of the riff endures, no matter who is doing the conjuring.

At the time, it seemed like that power was magical. Like the person who wrote the phrase tapped some vital life force or attitude and injected it into the notes to make them bigger than the sum of their parts. And I think there will always be a part of me that believes that. But this weekend, as I was listening to the new Budos Band album Burnt Offering for the fifth or sixth time, two things struck me:

  • This album is riffy as hell
  • Repetition is that vital force

Our brains love having expectations set and fulfilled. Repetition is deeply satisfying, and riffs are music chopped into the perfect serving size — that snack we can eat a bunch of in one sitting. Burnt Offering is a fantastic example. Over and over again, song after song, the band unites to forcefully establish a thematic phrase — one that’s both weighty and memorable — then they provide just the right amount of repetition to get your head moving and your brain’s juices flowing. I was talking to Mrs. YHT about this, and I told her that I can’t really identify a favorite song, nor is there a track that I especially look forward to, because they’re all equally effective and engaging. Each one becomes a favorite while I’m listening. There’s something wonderfully in-the-moment about the exercise that I just can’t get enough of. I keep playing the record again and again.

It’s no coincidence that the Daptone site describes the album as “dripping with the psychedelic sounds of early heavy metal.” Burnt Offering takes the best of that guitar store atmosphere and adds the depth and color that only a band of funk and soul veterans with saxes and bongos and trumpets could add, resulting in a group of songs that scratch the musical itch like nothing else I’ve heard this year.

Sample “The Sticks” below and buy Burnt Offering here.

The Budos Band — “The Sticks” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Yellow Ostrich

David Bowie

The picture of David Bowie above does two things:

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Sleepwalkers

Sleepwalkers

There are bands you appreciate, and then there are bands you root for. Not because they need the extra backing, but because there’s something that joins your experience with theirs. It could be that their music is so good that you feel passionately that it needs to be heard as widely as possible, and that passion acts like glue — their success is your fulfillment. It could also be the case that you meet the members of a band, and their approach to music aligns with some ideal you hold onto — a picture you’ve painted in your mind after hearing and dissecting an album you love.

All of the above applies to Sleepwalkers, who I had the chance to interview for River City Magazine/West End’s Best in early October. The highlights from that conversation just hit the interweb, and you can read them here (a slightly shorter printed version will hit newsstands any day now). There are two quick things I’d like to add:

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Matuto

Matuto

Almost exactly a year ago, rvamag.com published an interview I did with Matuto, a thrilling and innovative NYC-based group that takes strands from different forms of traditional music — American bluegrass and Brazilian forró being two — and interweave them via fun songwriting and truly spectacular musicianship. At the time, the group was fresh off a sold-out Lincoln Center show where they debuted a new piece called “Africa Suite.” That suite just hit the interweb in the form of an EP, and it’s excellent.

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Why You Should Vote Today

Game of Thrones

The list of Record Store Black Friday releases is available, and guess which deliciously ominous TV theme music is being pressed to vinyl?

DAAAH DAAAH DAHDAHDAH DAAAH DAHDAHDUMMMMMM

That’s right – they’re releasing the music from Season 1 of Game of Thrones, which includes the terrifying theme that plays over the opening credits. I love it – it’s so scary and fun and sets such a fitting mood for what follows. Violence. Deception. Plot developments I don’t remotely understand. Hot damn, I love Game of Thrones.

I thought I’d post the theme music today in case some of you out there were considering not voting in this midterm election.

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Happy Halloween!

Sleepwalkers

My October had an auspicious start — on Wednesday the 1st, I got to sit down for an interview with Michael York and Alex De Jong of Sleepwalkers, who made what many (including me) consider one of the best albums released in 2014. I’ll have more to share about that conversation soon (the issue of River City Magazine they’re featured in will be out in early November), but there’s one detail I didn’t get to include in the magazine piece — the band’s love for holidays.

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Moses Sumney

Moses Sumney

Days like yesterday are why I love reading and writing about music. All of this happened within the span of a few hours:

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