Buffalo Tom

Skins

Scrawny

Mar 10, 2011 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


The '90s alt-rock revival continues for Buffalo Tom and, frankly, it's good to have them back. Skins is the second album from the band since they returned from a nine year hiatus in 2007. And Skins is very much everything that you would hope for from Buffalo Tom. While the reunion album, Three Easy Pieces, was a bit of a grower, Skins starts right in with a bang, heavy on the classic Buffalo Tom sound of mid-'90s.

The album's opener, "Arise, Watch," is deceptive, hitting hard with furious guitar noise that plays counterpoint to the low key vocals. "She's Not Your Thing" is a Chris Colbourn-sung jangly Byrds-esque sing-a-long. And "Down" is an intense mid-tempo rocker reminiscent of the band's 1993 breakthrough, Big Red Letter Day, Bill Janovitz singing with his most earnest emotionality. To complete the album's opening quartet of tunes, "Don't Forget Me" brings in fellow '90s New England rocker Tanya Donelly to sing with Janovitz, each intoning the title line overtop sparkling backing vocals by Colbourn and sprightly mandolin.

The album drags a bit in the middle before returning with trio of tunes to close things out: "The Big Light" about memories and the passing of time, "The Kids Just Sleep" with Colbourn singing about a father alone weeping while his children sleep, and "Out of the Dark," an introspective piano-led ballad that wrenches the heart like so many great Buffalo Tom songs do. Alternative rock from the '90s might be much maligned in the current indie-centric music world, but to paraphrase Jon Stewart as he once introduced the band on his '90s talk show: I like good music and this is good music. (www.buffalotom.com)

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