Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Lord Buffalo's sweeping Western sound captivates

June 28, 2012

Lord Buffalo‘s sparse, dark, acoustic-led folk slinks about in the shadows of the Western imagination. It’s the sort of grim, foreboding sound that I’m accustomed to attributing to Appalachia, but Lord Buffalo is from Austin, TX. The band pulls off its vision with a convincing control of atmosphere and the blessing of a low, rough baritone voice to sell the sound of their self-titled EP.

The band puts all their musical efforts to great use in “Sycamore, Pt. 2 (Glass Hills),” where a slowly-pounded drum becomes menacing with repetition under a whirling, churning crescendo of sound. It’s the sound of a revenge Western film, right about the time that the hero decides he’s going to give in to his darker side and do the deed. Then highlight track “Cold Bones” would be the next scene, where he sets out to make the villain pay: the electric guitar pairs with a wailing violin, distant pad synths and more thumping drums to create a majestic, determined, traveling feeling.

But I could be jumping the gun on that one: the eerie fourth track is called “Pale Horse, Pale Rider” and talks about “You, the devil and me.” (It has rhythms that seem to mimic the pace of traveling by horse; or I could be importing that on there, but either way, the song works.) By the time “Face in the Grass” appears, a close listener should be downright worn out from all the activity. And, so kindly, Lord Buffalo obliges with a quiet, weary, almost-reverent tune to close out the set. (How it feels when revenge is done, but isn’t really satisfying, perhaps?)

It’s a downright powerful set, spanning a wide range of emotions. I’m positively thrilled by this EP, and I look forward to what Lord Buffalo has to offer us next. Highly recommended.

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

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