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Buffalo Crows: Black Tooth Grin

I'm not sure if it is the name of this Kurri Kurri, Australia based band, but Buffalo Crows sound like I would imagine Native Americans would if they had invented the blues. Harmonicas howl, vocals are a gritty dry throated spit and the drums thump, all the while the guitar hammers out a blues standard riff. Well that's "Dark Lord Rising" and it works, not to a knock you off your feet extent, but enough to make you lean in to hear what comes next. Again the deep baritone rumbles and grates on "Turn To Stone", with a more plaintive harmonica this time giving the impression of Neil Young on a downer and with a throat infection. Good this time, but not as engaging as what has come before.

And so it goes.... Unfortunately the longer I've spent with Black Tooth Grin, the less engaging it becomes. Not because repeated listens become boring, but by struggling to make the difference between the songs stick. In part the unwaveringly morose vocals from RL Crowfoot shoulder some of the blame, turning the gentle percussion and strum of "Ghost Lament" into something similar to what has come before, even when musically they are quite a way apart. While "Day After Day" stays too close to the acoustic and voice framework to break free.

Thankfully "Black Dog Song" shakes off the hazy daze, introducing those thunderous beats back into proceedings, but again the similarity between this emotion and those of the first two songs makes them stand too close together. Then "Man King Of Blood" again sounds like a certain Mr Young when little is going his way; where a few vocally new slants are also attempted, although not with complete success. "Pete Ham", which is a tribute to the Badfinger man of the same name proves a bit light weight and "Alex" simply sums up all that has come before in reasonable fashion.

It may not feel so from the words above, but there isn't actually a bad song anywhere on Black Tooth Grin, it is more just that there aren't any real stand-outs either. A bit more light and shade, and a bit more pace injected and Buffalo Crows could be on to something, but as it is, this effort is enjoyable enough but all too readily forgotten.

Track Listing
1. Dark Lord Rising
2. Turn To Stone
3. Ghost Lament
4. Day After Day
5. Black Dog Song
6. Man King of Blood
7. Pete Ham
8. Alex

Added: September 21st 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Buffalo Crows at CDBaby
Hits: 2306
Language: english

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