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Richard Buckner


Jason Panella
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Just got the advance release of Buckner's newest, Meadow. I'm not sure if anyone is really familiar with the guy, but he's a genre unto himself: alt. country/folk-ish rock, weird and near-hypnotic song structures, and an emotive voice that can power a space station. This is his eighth album.

After a few listens, I'll say this--Meadow isn't up to par with some of his great albums, but is very very solid. It's a much more rock-oriented disc (like his minor hit Since), and features several members of Guided By Voices/Cobra Verde and the Mekons backing him. The strongest tracks are the ones that could go on endlessly, pulsating drums and almost circular chord progressions. Opener "Town" has been stuck in my mind since I got it, and the subtle "Lucky" is right behind it.

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Just got the advance release of Buckner's newest, Meadow. I'm not sure if anyone is really familiar with the guy, but he's a genre unto himself: alt. country/folk-ish rock, weird and near-hypnotic song structures, and an emotive voice that can power a space station. This is his eighth album.

After a few listens, I'll say this--Meadow isn't up to par with some of his great albums, but is very very solid. It's a much more rock-oriented disc (like his minor hit Since), and features several members of Guided By Voices/Cobra Verde and the Mekons backing him. The strongest tracks are the ones that could go on endlessly, pulsating drums and almost circular chord progressions. Opener "Town" has been stuck in my mind since I got it, and the subtle "Lucky" is right behind it.

I like Buckner, but find that a little of him goes a long way. The Eeyore vocals get to me after a while. And I don't think he's ever improved on his debut album Bloomed.

But he's very good at what he does, and he's a fine songwriter. I saw him open for Buddy and Julie Miller about ten years ago, playing for a mostly disinterested crowd of about 50 people. It was an inspired double bill, and one of the concert highlights of my life.

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I can definitely agree with that, Andy. Buckner now has eight LPs--I own them all, and to be honest most of them just blur together in my mind. Meadow isn't one of his great albums, but at least well-done and enjoyable, and the guitar interplay between Buckner and Doug Gillard is pretty impressive.

And for the record, I love love love his voice.

EDIT:

I found this link to one of the songs from his new album, the opener "Town." It's much more rockin' than most of his material, and showcases his patented (and odd) "endless" song structure--it doesn't really have a clearly defined verse or chorus, and sounds like it could keep going on and on.

Edited by Jason Panella
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Andy, you mention Bloomed. Jason, is there another album that you would recommend over Meadow?

Kyle, I like Since, Buckner's third album, quite a bit. Bloomed, Buckner's debut, is a subdued, dour affair, but excellent rootsy folk music. The followup, Devotion + Doubt, is about Buckner's divorce. It's music to slit your wrists by. It's really a great album, but I definitely have to be in the mood, buoyed by some semblance of a pretty good day. Otherwise I start moaning about the futility of it all, and my wife has to force me to snap out of it by directing me to mow the lawn.

Since finds the right balance, I think. There are the usual dour, downcast ballads, but also a few tunes that approach rock music, enhanced to no small degree by the presence of Dave Schramm, one of the greatest, most underrated guitarists going.

The albums following Since (boy, does that look weird) haven't measured up to the first three, in my opinion, although I haven't heard Meadow yet.

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"The followup, Devotion + Doubt, is about Buckner's divorce. It's music to slit your wrists by. It's really a great album ....

The albums following Since (boy, does that look weird) haven't measured up to the first three, in my opinion..."

A mild dissent here -- Dents and Shells is as good as Devotion + Doubt (and perhaps a little stronger) -- Since is a fairly anomalous record in the parade as it's really a "band record" -- From my live experiences with him, Buckner seems uneasy as a a rockn'roller. Since feels like Buckner's version of Wilco's Being There, which has a similarly undecided feel texturally.

Buckner's record with Jon Langford, Sir Dark Invader, etc... is also worth looking out for...

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Guest thom_jurek
"The followup, Devotion + Doubt, is about Buckner's divorce. It's music to slit your wrists by. It's really a great album ....

The albums following Since (boy, does that look weird) haven't measured up to the first three, in my opinion..."

A mild dissent here -- Dents and Shells is as good as Devotion + Doubt (and perhaps a little stronger) -- Since is a fairly anomalous record in the parade as it's really a "band record" -- From my live experiences with him, Buckner seems uneasy as a a rockn'roller. Since feels like Buckner's version of Wilco's Being There, which has a similarly undecided feel texturally.

Buckner's record with Jon Langford, Sir Dark Invader, etc... is also worth looking out for...

Dman, I LOVE mEadows because it's the rawest recod he's done in a while, sort of like a modern day rock and roll followup to the Hill--his setting of parts of the Spoon River Anthology. I also feel like Devotion + Doubt is the masterpiece and Bloomed a close second.

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Kyle--

My two cents:

Bloomed is great, but one of the few Buckner discs I don't own (and therefore, I'm not as aquainted with it as I'd like).

Devotion + Doubt is a stunning record, but Andy is right--I really can't listen to it all of the time. It's even gotten to the point where I can only listen to it between late September and January.

Since is a great disc. "Believer" is easily one of my favorite opening songs, ever. John McEntire's drumming just blows me away on it. His folkier songs are keepers ("Ariel Ramirez," especially), and the rock songs are pretty stunning ("Hand @ the Hem" for instance).

The Hill is great, but demanding. The 18 poems (all from Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology) were recorded as ONE TRACK. Two of my closest friends are also Buckner fans, but hate this album because they can't skip through the songs. It basically requires you to sit down for 34 minutes and absorb, but I think it's worth it.

Richard Buckner is a bunch of solo acoustic renderings of some of his songs; most are good, though maybe not as good as the original studio cuts. A few are a tad better, though. This is the sort of album you would get after you get the rest.

Impasse{/i]-- I've only heard it once in passing, so can't really comment on it. It seems OK, but not up to snuff with some of his better discs.

Dents & Shells is a career highlight, probably on par with Since. It's a weird album, one that occupies this weird musical niche that easily dodges parallels and labels. It's also a very taxing album; not as much as Devotion + Doubt, but it still sucks the life out of you. In a good way.

And, it's worth noting, that the more and more that I listen to Meadow, the more I like it. I mean, I liked it to begin with, but now it's really starting to hook on to me. There were originally maybe three songs I REALLY liked. Now there are FIVE, out of ten. I think by the end of the week it'll be SEVEN. And so on.

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