Independent record label based in LA. Home to The Black Keys, Two Gallants, Buffalo Killers, Radio Moscow, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Hacienda, John The Conqueror, Brian Olive, Black Diamond Heavies, Left Lane Cruiser, T-Model Ford, Thomas Function, Waves Of Fury, etc. More at www.alivenergy.com
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
September 24, 2008 3:20 PM
Photos courtesy of Alive Records
Burbank-based label Alive Naturalsound Records are boasting a sick young roster. Here are a few of our favorite young bands:
- Brothers Abraham (keys), Rene (bass), and Jaime Villanueva (drums) and cousin Dante Schwebel (guitar).
- Discovered by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who produced their latest album, Loud is the Night.
- Obsessed with the Beach Boys. Look like Mexican-American Kings of Leon.
- On tour now with Dr. Dog.
Hacienda - "Shake Ya"
- Led by singer John Ziegler and guitarist Nick Waggoner, with Calvin Retzlaff on drums.
- Cross between The Clash and The Misfits. Part fuzz, part grunge and a machine gun back beat.
- Legendary producer Jim Diamond (The White Stripes) produced their latest, We Come In Peace.
Brimstone Howl - "Child of Perdition"
- Power trio with bassist Zachary Gabbard, brother Andrew on guitar. Joseph Sebaali holds it down on drums.
- Blues, classic rock and lot of hair.
- Dan Auerbach produced the latest record from the Buffalo Killers, Let It Ride.
Buffalo Killers - "Get Together Now Today"
Hacienda - "Shake Ya"
Brimstone Howl - "A Million Years"
Buffalo Killers - "Let It Ride"
All this political stuff has got me down. Watching all those people get jazzed up when people say "thanks but no thanks," and mean, "heck yeah, we'll take it," makes me realize I don't really understand the way other people think in this crazy country. Until I hear a band like Thomas Function. They're from Alabama, and I 100% get them. Not only do I get them, I goddamn love em. With a first record out on Fat Possum and a spankin new record, Celebration, out on Alive, these guys are as American as it gets. Taking punk rock, country, blues, new wave and garage rock and throwing them in a melting pot turned up to 11 and draped with the stars and stripes, "Filthy Flowers" and "Conspiracy" make me want to put my hand over my heart and raise up my Budweiser and say America, this one's for you. Which I will be able to do when they're on tour this fall. - Christen Thomas / RCRD LBL
Il y a, dans le livret de cet album, une photo qui fera rêver les chtis : les Black Diamond Heavies en concert sur la remorque d’un tracteur, pendant l’excellent festival Les Nuits Secrètes d’Aulnoye-Aymeries (59). Concert au Nord, groupe à l’Ouest : les Black Diamond Heavies se composent d’un organiste-chanteur et d’un batteur, dévoués à la cause du rhythm’n’blues le plus farouche. Ici, ils attaquent par Nutbush City Limit, une reprise d’un classique d’Ike & Tina Turner. Deux autres reprises sur l’album : une de la déesse soul Nina Simone et une autre du féroce bluesman T Model Ford. La soul et le blues, les Black Diamond Heavies ne les abordent pas en gardiens de musée, mais un marteau-piqueur à la main et la bave aux lèvres. Le pileux James Leg chante un peu comme Bon Scott D’AC/DC, ou un disciple dégénéré d’Howlin’Wolf. Il n’y a pas de guitare, mais le clavier Rhodes est colossal, le son extrêmement sale et saturé, hardcore, comme déformé par l’intensité de l’interprétation. Evidemment, les Black Diamond Heavies sont cousins des Black Keys – c’est d’ailleurs Dan Auerbach des Black Keys qui a enregistré et produit cet album (bien meilleur que le dernier Black Keys), en trois jours. - Les Inrocks
The template may be quotidian as dry toast but the differences come with the influences. LLC sound like early ZZ Top, if Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard had dropped Dusty Hill and headed off on an extended sabbatical to the Mississippi Hill Country to soak up the lineage that runs from Fred McDowell through R.L. Burnside, firsthand. The latter man is in fact an anointed hero in their pantheon and comes out in Freddy’s fuzz-saturated slide and the thundering fife/drum beats of Breck’s junk pile kit, a loose conglomeration of duct-taped plastic buckets and metal garbage pails. Purposefully primitive, but surprisingly pithy in their use of trance-inducing riffage, the songs waste little and leave little wanting. “Big Momma” and “Busket” contain breaks custom-built for bruising head banging amidst the coiled coarse-grain leads, lyrics barked in a raw-throated croak. “Justify” burns on the friction of a stentorian backbeat tied to more venom-spitting fret play, a 21st century retooling of the Diddley staple “Hush Your Mouth”. - Bagatellen
Black Diamond Heavies are a filthy raw blues duo from Tennessee whose sophomore album A Touch Of Someone Else’s Class is full of Southern fried and burned-in drums-n-organ blues stomps. It’s a sweaty, trashy, and whiskey-soaked ride but amazingly well-played despite the devilishly red-lined production that sends the album into a hot hot overdriven heat. Owing as much to roof-raising gospel as they do to punk, Black Diamond Heavies have stripped it all down to the bare essentials.
John Wesley Meyers provides vocals and pounds the keys while Van Campbell plays drums like they’re exploding. Myers is (fittingly) the son of a Baptist preacher and Campbell comes from a family of bourbon distillers. Their pedigree couldn’t be more perfect.
There are stomping songs like “Nutbush City Limit” and blues ballads like “Bidin My Time” but Black Diamond Heavies pull both stylistic affects off without a hitch. The drums burst right out of the speakers as if my ears are 6 inches from a 500 watt sound system. And through all of the feverishly fuzzed-out bliss the soulful nature of these tunes can’t be denied. If Catfish Haven dishes out neo-soul the these guys have sold their souls (or soul) to the devil and recorded this album deep in the fiery depths. Black Diamond Heavies are on tour now and will actually be playing Chicago as the opening act for Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Hell yeah. - Can You See The Sunset
Here we go again patients, it’s that time again at the 115th Dream when we stick by our rock ‘n roll stethoscopes and fight for the liberation of good music. Today we have a band of brothers (and cousin) hailing from the Alamo city, San Antonio Texas. A sound that’s infectin’ the halls of the asylum. Patients, if yer ears are plannin' on addin' a little bit of new music to their day then they better be listenin' to these guys. The name of the band is Hacienda and their sound radiates laid back cosmic dreamscapes and beautiful neo-retro note clusters that bleed through the grooves. If you were mad enough to take the elements of The Beatles, Beach Boys, The Band and mix ‘em up in a rock ‘n roll cauldron you would get Hacienda’s new album Loud Is The Night. This quartet has a knack for four part harmonies and that 60s AM dial sound-but in a 21st Century way. A sound that puts a good number of these 'throwback' bands in a day care center. - Doctor Mooney's 115th Dream
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
We get loads of e-mails each day from bands and PR firms representing bands. Very few have grabbed my attention like the email about San Antonio, Texas band, Hacienda. It went something like this: Blah, blah, blah, Dr. Dog harmonies, blah, blah, blah produced by Dan Auerbach. I damn near wet myself as I replied back that, yes, I would like an advance copy.
Here’s the scoop - Hacienda was started by cousins Abraham Villanueva and Dante Schwebel. After some failed projects, they were joined by Abraham’s brothers Jaime & Rene. From there, demos were recorded, one of which ended up in Dan Auerbach’s hands. A quick aside - where the hell does Dan Aerubach find the time rock with his band, The Black Keys, and produce 5 to 10 kickass albums a year? Anyway, Dan was intrigued by the boys from San Antonio and their obvious Beach Boys and Band influences. More songs were written, a couple of weekends were spent in Akron, and here we are.
I think you all know where this review is going. I mean, Jesus Christ. What’s not to like? Four piece harmonies? Check, they’re in there. Solid production? Check. Well written tunes recorded live to give it the authentic feel of a live performance? Check. And I know what you’re thinking. Woody, wouldn’t it be cool if Dr. Dog chimed in on a couple of tunes? One step ahead of you, my friend. Frank and Scott do stop in to lend a helping hand. You can hear them on “Little Girl” and “Angela” lending their vocal prowess to the harmonies.
This is a great debut. Some of my favorites include “Shake Ya,” “Sun,” “Wishbone” and the opening track, “She’s Got A Hold On Me.” Loud Is The Night is being released on September 16th on Alive Records. - Woody/Hear Ya
The Buffalo Killers, another band on the rise from the Ohio rust belt music scene, play a wonderful stew of music, clearly inspired by the classic blooze rock of the late ‘60s and ‘70s. At different times, the group’s sound can be both psychedelic and southern fried. One thing’s for sure: It is almost always hard, heavy and crunchy, carrying on a great classic rock tradition at a time when we need it most in this era of half-baked indie pop. Just listening to the band’s new album, Let It Ride, one can hear the presence of no less than Cream, Mountain, Black Sabbath, the Who, the Kinks, David Bowie, and even some light touches of Seattle grunge, such as Soundgarden or Alice In Chains. The album was produced by the guitarist Dan Auerbach, who spends most of his time with another Ohio band, the Black Keys, and his impact is apparent here, as well, most notably in the fuzzed-out guitars that graciously color most of the album. However, the most obvious, underlying, and appreciated influence (by this reviewer, at least) on this record is yet another classic Ohio staple: Joe Walsh and the James Gang. - Dave Bond/NONzine
Since I first reviewed Buffalo Killers’ debut album and their subsequent stop in our studio for their live session, the boys from Cincy have opened for the Black Crowes and hooked up with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys to produce their second album, Let It Ride.
Let’s just say that working with Dan Auerbach agrees with the band. While the first disc was good in its own right, Let It Ride has more life to it - loads more soul and hints of early 70s blues-boogie that bands like Faces, The Stones and Grand Funk were banging out with regularity.
The main difference between this album and the debut is the confidence in Zach Gabbard’s vocals. He has more swagger. I don’t know if it’s due to Auerbach’s production, Gabbard maturing as a singer, or just the influence of listening to Chris Robinson on a daily basis, but he sounds outstanding.
The album opens with a big, juicy bass line on “Get Together Now Today, a song that rambles along with Gabbard delivering the goods. I was gobsmacked after that tune. I was then smacked across my face by the title track that sent furious guitar licks busting out of my speakers. Other standouts include “On The Prowl” and the relatively chilled out “Heart In Your Hand.”
I really liked the debut, but Let It Ride is is loads better. The album is a more complete effort. I was tempted to say that the album is more polished or refined, but that description is an impossibility when describing Buffalo Killers. I mean, look at the cover art. They are savages.- Woody/HearYa
Monday, September 8, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Nashville's Black Diamond Heavies spent a lot of time on the road after the release of their first album, 2007's Every Damn Time, and you can hear the lessons of dozens of sweatbox gigs on their second full-length set, 2008's A Touch of Someone Else's Class. While James Leg (aka John Wesley Myers) on vocals and keys and Van Campbell on drums sounded tight and fiery the first time around, on their sophomore LP they sound tougher, harder, and practically incendiary; the duo's blues gestures are just as solid as before, but there's an emotional weight and an almost telepathic synergy between Leg and Campbell that makes their fine first record seem like a rough demo by comparison, and the songs rock harder and crazier than ever before. Leg often sounded like he was trying to channel Tom Waits on the BDH's debut, and not in a good way, but while the raspy growl of his voice still bears more than a passing resemblance to Waits, this time he sounds more like an inheritor of the great vocal tradition of Howlin' Wolf and Captain Beefheart, and it's a welcome improvement. Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys produced and recorded these sessions, and while his approach feels pretty hands-off, the results suggest having a more sympathetic hand behind the board was a real help for the band. And when a band's originals sound as good as covers of stuff by Tina Turner, Nina Simone, and T-Model Ford, there's no question it must be doing something right. In short, if you want to hear some blues-shot rock that'll kick your butt and make you love it, A Touch of Someone Else's Class is one album you need to hear. - Mark Deming / All Music Guide
Thursday, September 4, 2008
“We Came in Peace” is the best real rock ’n’ roll record of 2008.
It just happens to come from Nebraska’s very own Brimstone Howl.
A massive assault of garage punk honed to perfection by legendary Detroit producer Jim Diamond, the disc takes the propulsive, big-beat, big-hook, fuzzed-out Brimstone Howl sound to a new dimension, rarely pausing for breath in its taut, slithering attack.
Diamond, who has worked with The White Stripes, The Dirtbombs and The Henchmen among others, puts just the right touches on the music — a keyboard here, lots of echo there — and singer John Zeigler has written his best set of tunes yet.
Those songs shift from sci-fi weirdness, as in the trip to the nuclear city in “Hero of Gold,” to the dramatic spoken-word tale “The World Will Never Know,” which starts out sounding like autobiography but turns out to be a creepily romantic story of a loner who gets himself shot by the law, and “USMC,” about a guy signing up for the Marines.
“Obliterator,” a bluesy slide through the jungle, is followed by the psychedelic“Summer of Pain,” with Nick Waggoner’s guitar going wild against a driving beat that spins keyboards into the mix. Then things roar away on the sexually charged “Bye Bye” that hints of the Stooges.
“Catamite Blues” is, in fact, 21st-century blues, a futuristic screamer with Zeigler shouting about seeing blood in his veins and Waggoner’s guitar twisting the old sounds into something fresh and new.
But, as always, Brimstone Howl isn’t afraid to wear its influences on its sleeve, touching on the Cramps on the greasy, harmonica-driven “Child of Perdition,” the Velvet Underground on “Easy to Dream” and a little Ramones-tinged power pop on “A Million Years” (OK, it has guitar solos and the Ramones never did, but who cares?).
Brimstone Howl has been one of my favorite bands since I saw them in a previous, controversially named incarnation playing Duffy’s Tavern four or five years ago. They’ve just gotten better and better, and the collaboration with Diamond has brought them to a recorded peak that matches the intensity and entertainment of their live shows — the highest compliment that I can give to any rock ’n’ roll record.
Oh yeah, “We Came in Peace,” which hits stores Tuesday, was made loud to be played loud. Crank it up!
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Hacienda will be touring with Dr. Dog this September and October, which is fitting because if you like Dr. Dog (or the Beatles, The Beach Boys or The Band), you'll really love this band. It's nice to find a good band that compares well to a band(s) you already love, but generally you get a small taste and the rest doesn't follow through. Hacienda's new album Loud Is The Night satisfies from start to finish.
These four Mexican-Americans gave a demo to Black Keys' lead singer Dan Auerbach that "blew my fucking mind...I told everyone about them." One of the groups Auerbach told was the aforementioned Dr. Dog who also guest on the new album. Auerbach also then proceded to put his money where his mouth was and produced and engineered the entire album. You can really hear Dan's influence on Shake Ya. Baby Don't Go is a sweet Sonny Bono cover too. Loud Is The Night is out on Alive Records.
Hacienda U.S. Tour Dates – supporting Dr. Dog:
September 13 - The Parish - , TX
September 16 - Club Congress - Tucson, AZ
September 17 - The Casbah - San Diego, CA
September 19 - Detroit Bar - Costa Mesa, CA
September 20 - Cellar Door - Visalia, CA
September 23 - Doug Fir Lounge - Portland, OR
September 24 - Tractor Tavern - Seattle, WA
September 26 - Urban Lounge - Salt Lake City, UT
September 27 - Hi-Dive - Denver, CO
September 29 - The Waiting Room - Kansas City, MO
October 1 - High Noon Saloon - Madison, WI
October 2 - Blind Pig - Ann Arbor, MI
October 7 - Club Hell - Providence, RI
October 8 - Revolution Hall - Troy, NY
October 9 - Iron Horse - Northampton, MA
October 10 - Middle East (Downstairs) - Cambridge, MA
My Old Kentucky Blog
Southern punk-ass blues duo Black Diamond Heavies hit the road beginning September 9 in Kansas City. The band close out the first leg of their US tour with a two-night stand, September 28 and 29, at Chicago's Riviera Theatre with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds before heading overseas for both a European and Australian tour.
The Black Diamond Heavies new album "A Touch of Someone Else's Class," was recorded with producer Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys at his Akron Analog studio. A free mp3 download of the track "Everythang is Everythang" can be found here. For up-to-date information, check out: www.alivenergy.com
Black Diamond Heavies are a two-piece consisting of John Wesley Myers aka James Leg on bass keys, fender rhodes, organ, and vocals (left hand of rhythm, right hand of soul) and Van Campbell completing the lineup on drums and vocals. With a family pedigree that includes Myers' father being a Baptist preacher and Campbell coming from a family of bourbon distillers (seriously, “Old Rip Van Winkle"), the Heavies pound out a raucous southern style punk take on the blues and soul.
BLACK DIAMOND HEAVIES CONFIRMED TOUR SCHEDULE
Black Diamond Heavies U.S. Tour:
September 9 @ The Riot Room - Kansas City, MO
September 10 @ Larimer Lounge - Denver, CO
September 11 @ The Back Porch - Spearfish, SD
September 12 @ Highsides - Livingston, MT
September 13 @ Boundary Bay - Bellingham, WA
September 14 @ Dante's - Portland, OR
September 15 @ Big Pete's - Arcata, CA
September 16 @ Caspar Inn - Caspar, CA
September 17 @ Rickshaw Stop - San Francisco, CA
September 18 @ Spaceland - Los Angeles, CA
September 19 @ Plush - Tuscon, AZ
September 20 @ Hotel Monte Vista - Flagstaff, AZ
September 21 @ The Barn - Las Cruces, NM
September 22 @ Atomic Cantina - Albuquerque, NM
September 24 @ Conservatory - Oklahoma City, OK
September 25 @ Lambert's - Austin, TX
September 26 @ Triple Crown - San Marcos, TX
September 28 @ Riviera Theater - Chicago, IL w/Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
September 29 @ Riviera Theater - Chicago, IL w/Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Black Diamond Heavies UK/IrelandTour:
October 15 @ What's Cookin, The Sheep Walk - Leyton, London
October 16 @ The Tap House - Kiddeminster, Midlands
October 17 @ The Sanctuary - Birmingham, Midlands
October 18 @ The Croft - Bristol, Southwest
October 19 @ Riff's Bar - Swindon, Southwest
October 20 @ Schiving Scholar - Plymouth, Southwest
October 21 @ The Shakespeare - Sheffield
October 23 @ Roisin Dubh - Galway, Galway
October 24 @ Eamonn Doran's Temple Bar - Dublin, Ireland
October 25 @ Beatnik Soul - Derry, Northern Ireland
October 31 @ TBA - Newcastle, Northeast
November 1 @ Fibbers - York, Northeast
November 2 @ The Shed - Leicester, Midlands
Black Diamond Heavies U.S. Tour:
November 11 @ Northside Tavern - Cinncinati, OH
November 12 @ Lisa's Oak Street Lounge - Louisville, KY
November 13 @ The Basement - Nashville, TN
November 14 @ JJ's Bohemia - Chattanooga, TN
November 15 @ Star Bar - Atlanta, GA
The first of two superb releases heading out of the Burbank, California imprint Alive that we’ve managed to nail in recent weeks from our local dealer that frankly you should invest the time in trying to track down as your own.
Damn fine smoking bliss out grooves is in abundance on the second full length from Cincinnati trio Buffalo Killers. Having just completed a short stateside tour with the Black Keys and with planned prestige support slots with the Black Crowes scheduled in the fall, ’Let it ride’ is the bearded ones follow up to 2006’s self titled debut full length - which annoyingly we appear to have missed.
Blending lazy eyed chilled blues motifs, Southern breeze accents and softly woven psychedelics, Buffalo Killers sound like they’ve woken from a prolonged acid induced coma and in so doing have missed the musical landscape changes of the last 35 years, their collective heads still tuned into an era still recovering from the Altamont fall out, Easy Rider and the whole latent counter culture vibe and the Vietnam war.
Blessed with some superbly exquisite production by Dan Auerbach at Akron Analog, ’Let it ride’ is pristinely crafted in a decadent retro vibe that seriously wouldn’t look amiss amid a record collection boasting a garage / rock / psych purists smattering of key late 60’s and early 70’s recordings. Freewheeling between a melodic tapestry that’s as equally at home carving out mellowing AOR nuggets (as on the middle America embracing ’heart in your hand’ and ’give and give’ which to these ears sounds like a shyly retiring Buffalo Springfield shimmying with Guns ’n’ Roses) and bitching blues grinds (as on the upbeat power driven boot stomping pedal to floor road blues beauty ’on the prowl’ with its drop dead cool Stones riffage or the subtly sexually charged Zeppelin like ’it’s a shame’ with its bourbon soaked gridlocked grinds and impeccably distilled Detroit garage flair), Buffalo Killers may just have turned up the trump card with ‘Let it ride‘.
Reference points are obvious - between the lazy hazy grooves you’ll hear the aural apparitions of Cream, Neil Young (Buffalo Springfield) and Mountain swirling and echoing in the mountain range breezes, yet scratch a little deeper and the unmistakable undercurrent of laid back blues dialects hint towards an overt fondness and admiration of Zeppelin’s first opus - none more so is this the case on the aforementioned ’it’s a shame’ and ’take me back home’(a proto ‘misty mountain hop‘ killer - yes we know it was from Zep‘s ‘IV‘ before you all start writing in complaining).
Elsewhere the gorgeously wrapped sultry mirages of feel good vibes work on the nervous system like some super potent prozac and seem a tad restricted from the comfort of a hi-fi appraisal rather more you’d feel better served finding a beaten up convertible throwing down its hood and letting rip through an endless horizon of wide open picturesque freeway. Case in point the hip grinding sexuality that literally seeps from ’if I get myself anywhere’ - a sumptuous honky tonking road blues babe that nibbles at the Faces while ’leave the sun behind’ is just simply classy - a moon shining and mooching cutie that slithers and side winds amid flotillas of countrified pines, its warm like radiating cruise controlled casualness deftly set upon the driving southern styled motifs casting a strangely trippy hue to the proceedings. ’Black paper’ wraps up the set superbly with its softly bathed 60’s speckled lysergic psyche mindset - best described as imagining Baby Woodrose freebasing on Free.
All in all once on the turntable turn up loud, light up a spliff or two and simply tune out. Killer stuff.
Marh Barton/Losing Today
American rock 'n' roll has retreated to the depths of the underground. For the bands that continue the time-honored tradition of smooth talking swagger and stiff lipped cool, they exist only in the eyes of the people who have discovered their clandestine reverberations.
Cincinnati, Ohio's native Buffalo Killers struts with the moan of a blues-laden trio who mix vintage tone with growling guitars to formulate passionate testimonials of lost love, desperate aggression and reckless endangerment. It is the underbelly of American rock 'n' roll, and with the release of their sophomore album, Let It Ride (released July 8 on Alive Records), the Buffalo Killers have been hatched upon the age in a time of desperate need.
Sleek in a tattered way and possessing a ferocious assault, the Brothers Gabbard (Zachary - bass and vocals, Andrew - guitar and vocals, joined by Joseph Sebaali - drums) have channeled a wrinkled, raspy-toned muse who was too purposely intoxicated to catch the train of trend. This is a story about defiance and destiny, the snarling moan of a scene crawling beneath the bustling avenues.
I'm a traveling man just a pushing ahead
We're a traveling band looking for a bed
We're not trying to bite you, we're just starving to death
"We recorded five songs and I sent the pressing out in a blank jacket with nothing more than the band's name and my home phone number on it," says Zach in reference to the band's debut LP. "A phone call came from Burbank, California two days later. It was Alive Records founder Patrick Boissel. We really didn't expect to be making a record at the time. When Alive Records called me back, it came as a shock. We were just looking to catch our bearings and the next thing you know I am telling someone, 'Yes, we do have the rest of the material prepared. Go ahead and send us a check and we will finish the album. It was a scramble to book additional studio time and do whatever the fuck we needed to do to finish that first record."
For Andrew and Zach Gabbard their musical explorations started not with the Buffalo Killers but with another Ohio-based trio, Thee Shams. Consisting of Zach, Andrew, Sebaali, Max Bender and Keith Fox, the band earned the attention of Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys as a local garage band contemporary. When Thee Shams disbanded, according to both parties, Auerbach was never told.
"Dan didn't know we formed a new group until he heard the first Buffalo Killers record and realized it was us. He called me wanting to know why I hadn't got in contact to tell him about it," Zach explains. "It was just a thing where we started over and didn't want to approach audiences as a band rising out of the ashes of another."
"Things started to happen for us when we went to L.A. in support of the first album," Zach continues. "A drummer friend of mine came that night and told me that Chris Robinson [The Black Crowes] had told him about the show. I was kind of taken aback. All I could think was, 'Chris Robinson heard our record!' We were just going out to California to play some shows in support of the first record and we were fully under the impression no one was going to show up. We thought we were going to make some rounds, play to a few people and then upon returning we might have a cool thing going on."
"It was a big fucking deal to me when The Black Crowes asked us to go on the road with them. I grew up listening to them. For us, it was like touring with The Beatles," Zach offers.
"My brother and I grew up in a musical household because my dad played guitar. We grew up listening to Neil Young, The Grateful Dead, CSNY and New Riders of the Purple Sage from as long back as I can remember. They, along with my father, taught us how to play music. As a kid you think, 'What does your father know?' but looking back, if I wanted to hear something new all I had to do was go downstairs and rummage through his record collection. It was all right there. If we wanted to play an instrument, the amps were already in the house. We were groomed to do this," Zach says.
"There were a lot of good groups stemming from Cincinnati. The Greenhorns were natives as well as The Afghan Wigs. I was really into The Afghan Wigs when I was younger. As a matter of fact, we actually recorded the first record with [Afghan bassist] John Curley, who has a studio here. There are lots of places to play. It's a good home base."
"When we would go out on tour, we would come home and it felt like every town in Ohio embraced us. There was no pressure, like playing in New York, for us," Zach explains. "For us, it is about the music we play not how we look. Playing here in Cincinnati, there was no pressure. We could go fuck off and completely bomb here. It really didn't matter. We could always just start over. The spotlight wasn't as bright as it might have been in New York. [Though] we were playing to our friends and family, the people we grew up with [and] sometimes that might hold more pressure than playing to a bunch of strangers."
The Let It Ride Sessions
"We recorded it in two weekend sessions with Dan Auerbach. We were focused but it was a very relaxed situation," says Zach, while sprawled across his bed in Cincinnati just off a tour leg supporting The Black Keys.
"The atmosphere surrounding this record was completely different from the debut. We knew what we were doing, what we wanted to do, and half of the songs were already fleshed out on the road while supporting The Black Crowes. When we got off the road we went right into the studio for the sessions that would become Let It Ride."
"I got involved with the project simply because I was a fan of the band," says Dan Auerbach. "I invited them up to my studio in Akron. Zach called and basically said the band was ready to record and plans were made."
The recording sessions for Let It Ride were born from a meeting of longtime friends to create a testament of expression that unearths the primal endorphins buried deep within the souls of men.
"I have been into those guys for a long time. Back when they were in Thee Shams I brought them on the road with The Black Keys. I didn't hear anything from them for a while after Thee Shams disbanded until the next thing I know the Buffalo Killers first record is coming out. I bought a copy of it and was stunned, like 'Holy shit.' They transformed from a good garage rock band to light years ahead of what they were doing in terms of songwriting, arrangement, and harmonies," expresses Auerbach. "Not to mention, Joseph Sebaali is an animal behind the drum set. The entire conception was particularly impressive."
Auerbach's studio is as much of a refined gem as the recordings that have propelled The Black Keys' catalog into vinyl necessity. Custom built from the ground up with a simple design, accented with classic flashback dÃ©cor and baked-in vintage cool.
"It only took a few days to record Let It Ride. They were practiced," says Auerbach. "As a producer I was there as someone for those guys to bounce ideas off of. These are the kind of guys that don't need a lot of help when it comes to making records or sparking their imagination. These guys just don't need it. They have so much natural ability and talent that all I could do was just be there to answer any questions they might have. Occasionally, I would give some input but I knew the most important task was capturing their sound; the raw live sound of this band."
"I think anytime you get talented musicians together who are writing original music it is important. They may not be important to MTV, but apparently they don't like to see real musicians playing instruments," continues Auerbach. "I'm partial to people who have an idea of the past and the related sounds, because that is what I like - the sounds from the late '50s through the '70s. Not necessarily the songs, but the tone. The way things were recorded back then sounded better in my opinion. When the '80s came around things just seemed to go to shit. Engineers and producers took liberties with editing devices and really screwed up a lot of band's recordings. Recordings became so clean it was nauseating. The pops and hiss are as much of a part of the music as the songs themselves. People might refer to the sound as vintage, but to me it is just simply rock 'n' roll."
Let it ride, don't you hide
Cause tomorrow might never come, so won't you let it ride
Don't you lie or wait one minute
Just hold up your hand and make a stand
"It is beyond the point of faking it these days," says Zach on the philosophy of the band. "You can't fake it because there is so much fake stuff out there; people see right through it. Artists like Devendra Banhart and Vetiver aren't faking it. They are living what they do, as we are living what we do. We are not in it for money; we are in it because we want to say something. We want to do what we love. There is no other ambition I have in life."
"I think it is great how rock 'n' roll has gone back underground. You can have a group that tours the United States, puts out their own records and nobody in the mall knows they exist," continues Zach. "That is how rock 'n' roll should be, not on MTV. As a fan you want it to be yours and that is what it is again."
"We put out records [and] we don't worry about if we are going to get reviewed by the papers. We set out to sell records to people at shows. We make a recording and we hit the road. We don't stop until the next album is ready to be recorded," says Zach. "Playing music onstage is one of the greatest joys I have ever experienced besides having a child or being in love. Nothing compares to people connecting with something you are creating for them. That is why I cannot stop. It is better than any drug you will ever take."
"I want people to cherish the song," Zach states. "We write songs about our families and being in love rather than telling you everything is bad and the world as gone to shit. It has but you don't have to believe that. You have your friends and your family. As stupid as it might sound all you need is love. Cherish what you have because it might not be here tomorrow. 'Let it Ride.' That is what it is. There might not be a tomorrow so you might as well let it ride."
Martin Halo / JamBase
"Get Together Now Today" gets the album off to a good start. It is a rootsy sounding song with some heavy-duty groovaliciousness. A few things are readily apparent about this band. First, they believe in reverb. Big time. Secondly, it sounds like this band was raised listening to James Gang and Grand Funk. Buffalo Killers has one thing in common with Grand Funk: the sound seems like it's being produced by more than three guys
The band brings not only a big sound, but also a good energy to this recording. It's pretty clean and gives a great idea of what the band is all about. "On the Prowl" is one of those songs you want to play in the car with the volume cranked up and the windows down. Yes, even if it's only 40 degrees.
This is a solid album, especially if you are a fan of reverb-drenched groovy classic rock. There aren't any tracks you'll want to skip. Oh, and if you are a fan of Black Crowes, Buffalo Killers will be touring with them later this year. My advice is to put this on, crank up the volume and let the sound surround you. And make no mistake, the sound will surround you.
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