Let’s see, three albums in right around a year. Each album consistent, well-produced and perfectly crafted. One of this, Acheron, was recorded live. In a cave! With a 4K recording of the whole thing.
King Buffalo, along with Elder, are probably the most impressive and respected rock band in the country, at least among the people who know them. I have yet to meet a single person who doesn’t like them, regardless of age, gender or overall taste.
There’s nothing offensive about them, very little to complain about. Their albums sound great, and their live shows sound even better. The musicianship is flawless and pulled off with such grace that it looks easy.
Bassist Dan Reynolds always seems to be having a chill, relaxed time while is fingers appear to barely move. Then he sneaks in a vicious bass run, walking line, or some flourish while keeping the same facial expression and dreamy groove. Every song is a clinic from this guy. When they first started, I’m pretty sure he also ran the lights. Swaying back and forth, side to side. Contented and relentless.
Scott Donaldson is the one dude who always looks like he’s about to all Keith Moon all over the place, walks up to the line and jumps back into the groove. He can sit in the pocket as long as he needs to, then explode with the sheer joy of the explosion, then bring it back down in an instant. Between sets, he just walks around and chats with the fans. He also recently found time to get married. But the biggest marvel is he pulls it all off with a minimal drum kit. He’s the perfect example of skill being the priority over dozens of drums: he isn’t trying to be Neil Peart.
Sean McVay is simply The Man, with a seemingly endless supply of riffs and tasty leads. Like the rest of the band, he has a relaxed presence that hides the fiery solos and wicked chord progressions. King Buffalo is like the old metaphor of the frog on water: one hardly notices as the temperature increases. Sean is the perfect example of this. Whenever I hear that rock is dead, and the day of ‘guitar gods’ is over, I smile and think of him. Maybe not today, right now, but some day he will be regarded as one of the top 20 or so guitarists in American rock history. 20 years from now, kids will still be wearing their T-shirts, streaming and buying their recordings. Along with Elder, All Then Witches and countless other bands in this iteration of the Lost Generation.
King Buffalo represents everything that’s great and horrible about ‘Merica. Here are three decent guys, working their assess off the American Way, doing their own recording, producing, writing and merchandise. When you buy shirts or albums from their site, it’s an email from Scott. If he’s on the road, you’re gonna have to wait. They are the real thing in ways the myth of Springsteen could never live up to.
The horrible part is that my compatriots are too fucked up in their own shit to care. Endless Boomer/Gen X Facebook pages bitch and groan that “today’s music sucks.” The real message I get from King Buffalo, the reality of our culture is reveal is that no, we suck. We abandon what’s great in search of what stinks, and then blame the stinker.
Not literally though. Those guys probably don’t think in those terms at all. They just work blissfully away, crafting some of the finest music written in the past 50 years. We could ALL use that ethos, that vibe, right now. And it’s here: we just need to seek it out and listen.
Happy King Buffalo Day!