Release Date: Mar 8, 2011
Record label: Scrawny
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Buffalo Tom were the sort of band that seemed to be on the verge of a major commercial breakthrough through much of their 1989-1998 recording career without ever quite catching the brass ring, despite the consistent strength of their music. When Buffalo Tom rolled back into the studio to record 2007's Three Easy Pieces after a nine-year layoff, it sounded like the work of a band that reunited because it was what the bandmembers wanted to do, not because they were counting on a major payday, and 2011's Skins even more clearly reflects this attitude. While Buffalo Tom can still rock out and their songwriting chops are in great shape, Skins is a personal and introspective work, where quieter numbers like "Miss Barren Brooks," "Paper Knife," "Don't Forget Me," and "The Hawks & the Sparrows" play as big a role as full-on rockers such as "Lost Weekend," "Guilty Girls," and "The Big Light.
Music has a way of reaching out to people in far-flung places, and at a time when the Internet era was just getting off the ground, Buffalo Tom was a group that connected me to a young woman in Washington, D.C. that I’d become e-mail pen pals with. In 1995, I had exactly one Buffalo Tom album in my CD collection: 1993’s Big Red Letter Day. I had considered it to be an OK record, but it didn’t exactly shatter my world.
The '90s alt-rock revival continues for Buffalo Tom and, frankly, it's good to have them back. Skins is the second album from the band since they returned from a nine year hiatus in 2007. And Skins is very much everything that you would hope for from Buffalo Tom. While the reunion album, Three Easy Pieces, was a bit of a grower, Skins starts right in with a bang, heavy on the classic Buffalo Tom sound of mid-'90s.
After nearly a decade of inactivity, Boston grunge-pop trio [a]Buffalo Tom[/a] swung back into action with an impossibly good comeback in the form of 2007’s [b]‘Three Easy Pieces’[/b]. Where that album delivered a fierce shot of good ol’ fashioned rock’n’roll, though, this follow-up might reasonably be described as both ‘sensitive’ and ‘mature’ – generally the sort of behaviour to be actively discouraged. Happily, it makes a good go of bucking the trend here and there, with singer [b]Bill Janovitz[/b]’s full-throated delivery investing his words with the kind of gritty undercurrent of self-loathing and inner torment that makes [b]‘Skins’[/b] jolt with bursts of fresh energy.
On Skins, Buffalo Tom digs a little bit deeper than they have on their earlier work, and they sound like a band that’s gradually coming to grips with the notion of maturity. Whatever rust they showed on 2007’s Three Easy Pieces, their first album in nearly a decade, has been shaken off here. Skins is a polished, occasionally gritty rock record that, in its best moments, mines real conflict and resurrects the questions that have lingered since the mid ‘90s about why Buffalo Tom never quite broke into the big leagues.
An impressive, graceful addition to the indie veterans’ catalogue. James Skinner 2011 When Buffalo Tom released Three Easy Pieces in 2007, following an almost decade-long hiatus, it felt like they’d never been away. A lot of this is no doubt due to the type of band they are – never showy or extravagant, theirs is a driving, solid, heart-on-sleeve indie rock that’s about as earnest as it gets.