Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Lord Buffalo: tense/quiet, powerful/blasting

December 11, 2017

There’s no one quite like Lord Buffalo. The Austin outfit combines acoustic drone, folk, indie-rock, and post-rock into inventive, unexpected tunes that capture a sense of the Wild West. If you’re up for a wild, blow-back-your-hair listening experience, Lord Buffalo should be your jam.

The six-track record starts off with “Xochimilco,” a tune with roughly 30 seconds of drone and 50 seconds of gritty single-note guitar and shrieking violin on top of that drone. That interplay between tense, quiet moments and powerful, blasting ones is a theme that continues throughout the record.

“Axolotl” is a microcosm of the whole record: powerful, emotion-wracked vocals howl over a simple rhythmic base of stomping guitar chords, simple drums, and patterned bass before exploding abruptly into a furious maelstrom of sound. (I’ve used “maelstrom” to describe Lord Buffalo before, and the word is not getting any less apt.) The band goes back and forth in quiet/loud until the absolutely towering conclusion that would put a lot of more traditional post-rock bands to shame in sheer force.

The last dying organ holds bleed into “Alvar Nunez Cabeza De Vaca,” which is a mournful, skyscraping dirge that resists going full out into post-rock (it just threatens it, which is a threat to believe after “Axolotl”). The ten-minute “Saxifrage” is the most country-inflected of the tunes, as the opening salvo sounds almost traditional (but there’s always a tinge of doom from the ever-present reverb). The tune moves through sections that can be even called pretty before punching into something approximating indie-rock. And that’s only half the tune.

There’s a lot going on in Lord Buffalo, as the band stretches their bounds in every possible way. (I feel just terrible for the violin used on this record, what with all the sounds that are wrung out of it.) But all throughout there is a consistent ethic: an intensity that manifests itself in all-out pounding and in very quiet sections. Lord Buffalo is giving its all on this record, and you can tell. If you’re into maximalist music, atypical folk, weird post-rock, or any combination of those things, you’ll find a treasure trove on this self-titled record.


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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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