Published on May 29th, 2014 | by TLV News0
Young Buffalo is Growing Stronger
Live at Proud Larry’s Friday, May 30, 2014
by Suanne Strider
In 2011, Hear Ya magazine began their article on the then three-piece band Young Buffalo with these words: “Meet Young Buffalo and have an early look at a band that will wind up on countless best of lists at the end of this year.” This ended up being true—and the band began to make waves not only here in the States, but in the UK and Europe as well. Later that year, Young Buffalo went on tour as the supporting act for the Arctic Monkeys on their “Suck It and See” tour of the United States. This, no doubt, also helped to place them in the spotlight, and they quickly became one of the hottest new bands to be featured in magazines like Hear Ya, and to be discussed in countless music blogs. This band, which originally began as a duo featuring Jim Barrett and Ben Yarbrough, really hit a vein with the younger generation, who obviously find in their music the new, pop-laden sound that is winning the hearts of young music lovers today. Some may liken them to Foo Fighters (although I’m not sure the band would like that comparison—Young Buffalo has a different sound from the Foo Fighters, but their energy, positivity, and good looks are very similar).
In 2013, Paste Magazine placed Young Buffalo on their list of “12 Mississippi Bands You Should Listen To Now.” Since then, the band has grown from two members to five—adding Tim Burkhead on drums, Andrew Guin on bass, and Will Eubanks on keyboards. I went to The Lyric to photograph the band for this article and was lucky enough to sneak in unnoticed and listen to a couple of songs while they were practicing. “Wall of Sound” came to mind as soon as I approached the double doors that open to the alley. I was impressed, to say the least. This is not because I didn’t expect it—after listening to the studio work they have done I knew these guys were good. But there is something about this band that is different—special. There is the expected tinge of distortion in their music that is the new thing with pop bands today, but their distortion is not muddy or fuzzy. Ironically, the distortion I hear in Young Buffalo’s music could best be described as articulate, because it changes with the ebb and flow of the music, and is not just limited to the vocals. And the distortion on the vocals is softened with the harmonies they create together. This is a fresh take on the distortion, lo-fi craze. There is order in the chaos…perfection in the imperfection.
I also noticed straight away that these guys are professionals, and they take every single note they are playing very seriously. All the band members were facing each other on stage, in a circle formation, communicating with knowing looks and head nods to indicate to each other where the next note was going. And it doesn’t hurt that they are all easy on the eyes. This is another way I am reminded of the Foo Fighters—Young Buffalo looks like what a young rock band in America should look like—youthful, handsome, whimsical, and quirky, but not trendy or hipster-ish. I know that this type of thing shouldn’t be that important in music, but when it comes down to it, we all know that it doesn’t hurt record or ticket sales for the people on the album cover to be attractive.
Young Buffalo really doesn’t sound like anyone except Young Buffalo. They have a sound that is distinctly identifiable as their own. Check out the song, “Upstairs” from their 2012 self-titled EP, which you can find on the band’s website complete with a beautifully done video featuring a girl venturing into an “Alice In Wonderland”-type world, directed by Johnny Knight. The video is a stunning piece of art, symbolically running parallel with the meaning of the song, which speaks of feeling lost in a world where everyone else is “out there…and I’m upstairs.” This is one of the many songs they have created that has everything a good pop song should have, making me wonder why this song isn’t all over the radio.
The band will be releasing their first full-length album in February of 2015 on the Votiv label in the United States, and on the Caroline label in the UK and Europe. They will be releasing a single off of the album this June to give us a little taste of what is in store when their album drops. The pre-release is called “Sykia”—a reference to a small coastal town in Greece that Jim Barrett visited when he was eighteen. The song has the same star quality sound that can be heard in “Upstairs,” and so many more of their songs. It has a great hook, a positive message, and it just makes you want to dance your way to Sykia with the band and “…get away from everything, get away from everyone.”
Young Buffalo will be playing at Proud Larry’s on Friday, May 30th, with special guest Talbot Adams. It is also Ben Yarbrough’s birthday, so we can expect not only great music, but great fun, too.
This article was originally printed in The Local Voice #204 (published May 22, 2014). To download a PDF of this issue, CLICK HERE.