Buxton: "Not Everyone Is Going To Love You"
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.
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."