A good garage rock song can be hard to argue with. Quick, to the point, and just heavy enough to be difficult to ignore it’s likely to be a familiar genre to many – yet there’s still a lot to be said for the style, even some some fifty years on from its inception. Half way between a deranged psychobilly bar band and group of late ’60’s garage punks, The Buttertones present themselves as an unashamedly old-school proposition; but they’re none the worse for it. Raucous enough to rollick along at a good pace but melodic enough to feel carefully planned, the group’s third full length album, ‘Gravedigging’, is a fun jaunt for those enamoured by the likes of The Sonics.
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The Shadows-on-acid spaghetti western of ‘Neon Cowboy’ is just as entertaining as it sounds, whilst the punchy opener ‘Pistol Whip’ suggests an alternate reality where The Clash formed in the mid ’60’s and had indulged in a little too much LSD. The sinister surf-rock of ‘Two-Headed Shark’ has all the gloriously campy melodrama of the Cramps, topped off with a twisted interpretation of The Beach Boys’ perennially sunny backing vocals – one that sees them mangled into something altogether less friendly. The B52’s are another clear touchstone here, their demented hybrid of new-wave and old-wave are certainly an influence on the musical aesthetic of The Buttertones.
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Although the group mostly focus on twisted psych-surf, ‘I Ran Away’ offers a change of pace – the group’s gleeful vitriol briefly traded in for a tender ballad that complements the more vigorous garage-punk of much of the album well. Though influences come to mind throughout the album, it would be a disservice to The Buttertones to let that distract from the fact that ‘Gravedigging’ is a well crafted album with some great arrangements and no shortage of immediate impact.
Stylish, dark and a lot of fun, ‘Gravedigging’ is the work of a band who love what they do – and it shows. Whether it’s the passionately dramatic vocal work or the meticulously authentic instrumental parts, it’s clear that The Buttertones have studied their influences carefully and manged to craft an album that authentically captures the spirit of the bands they love. Whilst it is true that ‘Gravedigging’ doesn’t offer anything hugely new, it is a welcome throwback and is a well made, enjoyable record in its own right.7
‘Gravedigging’ is out on the 31st March 2017