Custardpaws & Mr. Freezy
Former Hot Dogs frontman Jeff Badger is getting really good at writing and performing humorous rock songs. His 2008 solo album, Barnacles & Bandages, had several tracks that achieved just the right balance of cleverness and catchy-ness. On The Buffalo, Badger (a.k.a. Mr. Freezy) and longtime collaborator Blair Wells (Custardpaws) deliver more material with an even higher hit-to-miss ratio.
In fact, they’re batting damn near 1.000.
The first track, “We Conquer,” is worth the price of admission all by itself. It’s got a sticky guitar line reminiscent of The Roots’ “The Seed” that’s as addictive as candy-coated crack. “Be Specific” and “We Command You to Move” mine a similar groove to yield pop gold, and each does so in under two minutes.
Badger, who’s also an entertaining visual artist, gets extra credit on “We Command You” for skewering some fellow artistes. “Don’t turn our studios into condos! / Oh, we’re so very fond of being the first crew on the scene / Distort us, import us, but just please support us / We’re deserving of unreserved esteem.”
The stylistic breadth and wry lyrics of The Buffalo bring likeminded Maine musical auteur Andrew Luckless to mind. The album’s 14 songs include goofy party polka (“Are You Alright Now?”), mock Beatles balladry (“Shelter Island Symphony”), a sea shanty (“Cold Out”) and some punk (“Back In The City,” “I’m Not Doing Shit Today Except for Writing This Song”).
The Shel Silversteinian “Building a Fence” has a paranoid-sounding soundtrack perfectly suited to its lyrics. On “Still,” Badger and Wells have concocted a neat little (1:35) ballad about a love so strong it can withstand a spurned girlfriend’s murderous rampage.
“‘No matter who you kill / I would love you still.’” Those are the last two lines, though I especially like the first four: “Lessons partly learned / Photos partly burned / Message unreturned / Bleach poured in the ferns.”
Fans of Cake, Ween and the aforementioned Mr. Luckless take note: this album is for you.