Buxton: "Not Everyone Is Going To Love You"

buxton bru oct21.jpg
Photos by Marc Brubaker
Buxton at Rudz in August
Lonesome Onry and Mean has been spinning local sensation Buxton's upcoming release Nothing Here Seems Strange for almost two weeks now.

And we're sorry, but we still don't get it.

Maybe we are old and jaded and out of it, but to us it sounds like a bit of Clem Snide or Mumford and Sons lite, only in our opinion Buxton doesn't have the chops, the vocal abilities, or - probably the most important dealbreaker - the memorable lyrics of those comparable bands.

We're not implying there's some calculated scheme to make the record fit a Mumford template going on, but LOM's biggest complaint after hearing the album a couple of dozen times is that nothing sticks, not even "Blown Fuse," which we assume will be the single New West Records pushes to college radio when the album finally hits the street in January. (A remix in Los Angeles pushed back the expected September release date.)

While "Blown Fuse" comes the closest to sticking with us and it's a nice enough, interesting enough track, we've thrown it at our aural wall two dozen times and we still don't find ourselves singing it in the shower or unable to get it out of our insomniac brain at 3 a.m. And that's what good songs do, they make you remember them and don't let you go to sleep without a battle.

They somehow keep calling you back. Check out Jason Isbell's "Codeine" or Shelby Lynne's "Old No. 7" if you don't get what we're talking about.

Boy of 9 oct21.jpg
There have been maybe 15 Americana records this year LOM has found loaded with unforgettable songs, filled with great hooks and instantly memorable lines we wish we'd written. Prime examples would be Isbell's Here We Rest, KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories) by Hayes Carll, Rod Picott's Welding Burns, even the recently released Revelator by Houston's Sideshow Tramps. So far at least, Nothing Here Seems Strange doesn't enter this rarified air.

LOM was talking with a highly recognizable face in the Houston music scene about the album at the Big Top a few days ago and, assuming he would like the record, asked him what we were missing, why it wasn't sticking with us. He shocked us by replying, "I've heard it and I don't get it either."

And then an even bigger shocker: "It's all about aesthetics, not about songs, right now," he opined. "It seems like no one in our age group and in our audience cares all that much about lyrics, it's just about the overall sound and feel, the dynamics.

"It helps if it's some really angst-y woe-is-me stuff, which is probably Buxton's strongest point, but honestly, you could just as well be singing the phone book," he continued. "And I think ultimately quality lyrics, writing great songs, is the biggest problem with a lot of bands trying to break out of here.

"I think we all want to see some Houston bands succeed wildly, that we're pulling for the home team, but at the end of the day there have to some great songs to make that happen."


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11 comments
Bob Claypool
Bob Claypool

The fact the WMS doesn't care for Buxton'salbum bodes well for it's sales.

Adam B.
Adam B.

...check out The Octanes "ROOTS ROCK AND ROMANCE...it'll stick with you  like a trusty switchblade. We got the stuff you need.....

rob
rob

I agree that they need to step it up in the songwriting department. They are a fun band to see live, but they have yet been able to translate that to record. Their album is not going to replace the new Jason Isbell in my CD player, but I am excited to see them grow and get better because they do have potential.

Formica
Formica

The interesting thing to me about this review is that it puts Buxton's name in my mind - and it makes me want to check them out for myself.

I think that puts this article squarely in the camp of "There's no such thing as bad press."Or as Prince said, "Don't read your press; weigh it."And I wouldn't have called this "bad press" anyway. A bad review is waaay obvious. Smith does not say here that the boys suck and deserve obscurity; he simply says that he doesn't get them. If he had an ax to grind, I suspect he would have given them NO press. I get the impression that he will listen to their next album with hopes that they have developed better songwriting - not that he will chuck it in the waste bin upon its arrival at the office. Buxton has not been written off here.

I also have even more respect for Fontaine now. How refreshing to hear a label owner understand that a band needs to develop - and cannot easily without some funding behind them. Go New West!!

John
John

Mike, have never heard Buxton but if they're as good as Robert Ellis I can live with that. Ellis was upset that he only got two stars? He got a "Piss on this noise" from me.John C

Daniel Jackson
Daniel Jackson

Dear WMS,

Looking forward to the Buxton record before & after this review. Not Mumford enough (A+ in my book) Pales in comparison to bands with 20 years experience (duh) Talked to someone at a bar who thought the same (hmmm?). I can appreciate a well-written, opinionated piece of criticism about a record. This review seems like a name-dropping explosive heaping pile.

I have seen Buxton live 3 times this year alone and I thought they were great each time. I believe 'Boy of Nine' is a pretty strong (and memorable) song. I am not entirely sure, after reading this review, what the exact issue is other than 'you don't get it' So to that....I invite you to jump off the Lynchburg Ferry!

Good day to you sir.

wms
wms

And re. Lynchberg Ferry, like Winston Wolfe told the two guys in Pulp Fiction, "move outta the sticks, fellas."

wms
wms

I've seen em 5 or 6 times and have liked all the shows but one. Best one was at BestFest, also dug first show at Volcano. But this album doesn't capture that live thing very well, more atmospheric, less muscular. Boy of Nine is one of the other better songs. But like I said, songs -- rhyme scheme, lyrics, melodies -- stick in your head or they don't. After two weeks and endless listens, it doesn't stick in mine. Nice, sincere guys, hard working, eager, hope they sell a bunch of records, continue to struggle/grow, but all that really counts in a reviewer's world is what's in the grooves and what hits the ears. For me, this recording misses. You're obviously a diehard fan/friend, so I''ve got no problem with you sounding off about me on this blog. That's what it's here for. Fire away.

recordfella
recordfella

I especially like that the record has an atmospheric sound and feel that it benefits from the contemplative, mannered production. The cd doesn't capture their terrific, rocking live sets. I'm glad that it doesn't. The duality is compelling. I love that fingertips song, though I don't sing it in the shower.

wms
wms

Fair enough. To each his own.

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