White Buffalo Woman, Tunes From Their Foolish Hearts
One could argue that almost all forms of rock music have stemmed from the fundamental rhythms and progressions of blues music. I'm not sure this is 100 percent accurate, but it makes sense. The incorporation of electric guitar in blues music and the birth of rock' n roll coincided around the end of World War II, and not long after followed an explosion of sub-genres from both. It should come as no surprise then that blues rock was one of the earliest sub-genres to emerge from rock music. Considering how many artists today are still creating their take on the hundred and something-year-old genre, I think it's safe to assume that blues music isn't going anywhere anytime soon. They say rock n roll ain't gonna die. Neither will the blues then I imagine. One band that's keeping the spirit alive and making waves with their rendition of bluesy rock is Minerva, Ohio's White Buffalo Woman.
Since 2010 the group has been rattling the floorboards of bars and venues across Ohio and beyond with their bluesy infusion of rock. Their 60's influenced recipe, with its various proportions of garage, punk, R&B, and psychedelia stirred in, is baked until groovy; then served with a substantial portion of soul. The resulting dish is a highly cooperative amalgam of feel-good tunes. Recommended pairing: cold beer and good friends.
Despite their original practice space being in the basement of a funeral home, the music that emerged from the underground space is in no way lacking life. Forging vintage sounds of the classic rock era with a contemporary attitude and their own creative vision, White Buffalo Woman constructs a precise blend of rock that allows qualities of the numerous genres they dabble with to shine through in each song.
The latest album from the group, Foolish Hearts which they released in January of this year, is a cruising good time from front to back. The kind of record you want playing while kicking it around the fire pit or bumping in your car on your afternoon commute. The ten song album gives off a refreshing breeze of nostalgia for those who have lent much of their ear to the music of the late 60's and early 70's. It radiates a particular energy that's reminiscent of that golden age of music where so many new things were birthed, and possibilities were endless. Although not bearing quite the same sound, it brings forth a similar sense of whimsical energy and joy that you would receive from a session of listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival (at least that's how I feel when listening to CCR). No bayou references or humidity laced tones, just those feel-good vibes.
The leadoff track, “Love Resolution,” comes in strong with a swaggering guitar melody and a chorus that you'll find yourself singing along with on your second listen through. Immediately following is the dance-inducing keys and swing of “Crying Shame,” a tasty song with a robust old time rock n roll feel.
“Honey Love” keeps the forward motion with a steady walkin bass line, uplifting cries of the organ and some bluesy guitar licks. Listen a little further, and you'll reach my personal favorite from the album, “Do You Ever Think of Me,” a psychedelic-tinged track with trance-inducing bass and guitar rhythms that occupy the space below hovering drones of an organ. The song wraps up with a dirty guitar solo that is certain to leave you wah-nting more (Lame pun, I know).
Many great albums have that song or two that tempt you to click the next button, but I can honestly say that is not the case with this album. A groove is quickly established and maintained throughout the smooth flowing, 38-minute playtime that locks you in for the ride.
Their work displays not only each individual's technical ability, but also their ability to create balanced and impactful tunes that do their intended job of putting some motion in your body.
Drummer Joe Wales lays a rockin foundation of energetic rhythms and waves of cymbals thick enough to wade through. I must give kudos to the producer/engineers for the resulting drum sounds on the album as well. They're present and forceful but sit back and morph into the music when they need to. All in all, the drums should have a prominent role in establishing the feel and direction of a song. Rhythmically and sonically, the drums of Joe Wales succeed in these regards.
The guitar work from both Adam Murphy and Devin Bezeredi is impressive as they effortlessly work together to create gritty melodies that are both tasteful and catchy, not to mention some of the skuzzy licks and solos they throw in there (skuzzy is a good thing). Bassist Alex Leggett takes his bass for walks on a short leash, staying tight and precise as he puts both lateral and vertical movement into the music.
Vocalist Evan Rutledge presents with a sort of “I don't give a f**k” attitude." In the best way possible of course. Rutledge's attitude and ability to form a synergy with the music is what makes him a great vocalist. I think this is a prominent feature of rock music. You don't need a great voice (not saying his isn't), instead you need to be capable of using your voice in a way that fits the attitude and feel of the music which he does with ease. He brings forth a particular kind of swaggish grit that makes it clear he's feeling the things that he's saying.
The band's self-titled first album has an equally appealing collection of tunes, but one that has a looser association between its tracks. The follow-up album has a noticeably smoother flow and a better sense of cohesion than its predecessor which I credit to the groups maturing chemistry and more precise vision of the music they're aiming to create. With that vision now in hand and experience under their belts, these guys have some serious momentum behind them. So be sure to check these guys out! Their video for "Love Resolution" as well as links to their website, social media accounts, and Bandcamp page can be found down below. If you dig whatchur hearing make sure to give them a follow as I'm sure there will be more to be heard from these guys down the road. Lastly, don't hesitate to catch one of their shows as they bop around the region this summer. (Tour dates here)