Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Great Songs You May Never Have Heard (7)

Since my friend Randy brought them up last week (on Facebook), I figure now is as good a time as ever to talk about Buffalo Tom, one of his (and my) favorite bands, and one that he introduced me to. They've put out quite a few very good albums, a couple of excellent ones, and, in my mind, one truly great album, Big Red Letter Day.

A three-piece band from Boston, they formed and released their first album a year ahead of Nirvana's first album, way out there on the opposite coast. It's a telling thing in a couple of ways: for whatever reason, grunge became the central talking point for pretty much anything related to rock and roll during this period (although obviously more so after the release of Nevermind in '91), and therefore the power pop-oriented sounds of bands like Buffalo Tom were kind of on the outs, at least with radio programmers.

Wrap your heads around this the next time you listen to the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl may indeed have been in Nirvana, but I pick Buffalo Tom as his band's true progenitors.

I almost picked "Sodajerk" for this, a song that I do so love, and one that is more famous (fame being a relative thing here; the song is much loved by people who know it, but even though it's been used in TV shows, it's still relatively unknown.. And while the album as a whole deserves more attention and acclaim, in the end the song I have to throw in with is "Latest Monkey."

This song quite literally gives me the jitters. As soon as I hear those first chords my whole body starts to move. When the lead vocals break in, I'm jumping. And the remarkable backup vocals, a sort of low-fi response, help bring the song to a whole new level. "Lastest Monkey" is a song with energy to burn, and the self-knowledge that said energy is going to burn hard, burn fast, and burn very, very bright. Less than three minutes long (but a few seconds longer than what is apparently the perfect length for a pop song), this is a compact and exciting piece of music that deserves to be heard.

Oh, I forgot to mention that they are one of Jon Stewart's favorite bands, and were the last musical guests on the Daily Show.

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