Sedated?: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 137

Butterfield 8 - Broken People - Banana Records - 10 songs - CD, digital

Back once again with their third album in as many years (or maybe fewer? Two might’ve come out in the same year— consult the Bananarchives), it’s Butterfield 8! “Broken People” continues with the band’s Beatle-y brand of power pop with some occasional other moods thrown in there. It’s maybe the darkest album of the three— I mean, besides the title, there’s a higher number of sad songs on here than I recall there being on the other two. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I hope all is well, Jim. “My Best September” kicks things off here on a nostalgic note: catchy power pop with a neat guitar riff and some cool countermelody backing vocals on the chorus. The slow sad ballad “It’s Not Fair” follows it— this one’s got a mandolin and I think an accordion and is not a bad track. I really don’t know what to make of “Instigators.” It sounds like it really wants to be a rocker but never quite hits its stride in that regard; also there’s some weird lines about people indoctrinating your children and being “programmed to prey on your minds,” but let’s not delve into that. “Point Of No Return” is another ‘sad’ one and one of my favorites here, a good jangly one. The backing vocals on the bridge sound like they were recorded through a telephone which is a nice touch; perhaps it represents the distance between the subjects of the song— can you tell I’m an English major? Nice solo at the end from Rick Christyson as well. We get an acoustic one for “Rings Of Saturn” (sad again!) and it’s very catchy but I can’t help but notice how much the melody of the chorus sounds like the “love’s such an old-fashioned word” part of “Under Pressure.” Maybe that was on purpose. “Merry-Go-Round” is a good uptempo one with a great line in the chorus about “you can bail me out from the lost and found” (two tracks later he has another lyric about getting bailed out, now that I think about it). There’s something about “Inside Your Dream” that feels both ‘60s and ‘80s at the same time— maybe Squeeze is the comparison I’m looking for here. “Epic Fail” is the other one that mentions bail; it’s not my favorite but I do enjoy that there’s a song called “Epic Fail” on here. One that is a favorite is “There Goes The Bride,” which as you’d probably imagine is about a serial runaway bride— several great lyrics in here including “perhaps she even posed a future risk of flight” and especially “something about her struck me as obsolete / like landlines, cursive, 8-track tapes, head-over-feet.” “I Think” is a good closing track and I really like the guitar solo Jim does here. Overall, there’s not a whole lot different about this album from the previous two, but that’s not  a bad thing. The production is a little less quirky which is almost a shame but it does retain the kind of homemade charm. Jim’s voice is still an odd midwestern drawl that for whatever reason works really well with the material and he still gets some good lines and catchy melodies in. This is apparently the final installment of the “Comeback Trilogy” for Butterfield 8, but I’m hoping we get more soon. 3.5/5

(butterfield81.bandcamp.com)

The Frans - Ride The Bus - self-released - 2 songs - digital

My first question upon receiving this single in my email was whether this was the ‘90s Cleveland band The Frans– they’re still around? They’ve become public transit-themed? Were they always and I just never noticed? But no, turns out this is a completely different Frans. And yeah, you didn’t misread that: they “sing for the bus drivers and rail riders,” as per their Bandcamp bio. That’s cool— I’m with Jonathan Richman and these Frans on this matter, more people should ride the bus. I’m not sure how much mileage (ha ha ha) you can get out of the concept as a band, especially since the first track here, “Ride The Bus,” makes pretty much their entire case in one song, but hey. It’s an upbeat punk tune, kinda dumb but generally fun and again, I do like their message. The other song (the B side, I guess) is…not good. “Bus Beach Party (Dracula)” is what it’s called and you can tell how confused the concept is just from that title. Cheesy garage rock beach party dance songs are already not my zone; songs where people sing in a Dracula voice are not my zone; the combination is definitely not my zone (not my stop?). The bus concept isn’t entirely lost here: Dracula has a magic bus. It’s mentioned in one verse and repeatedly in the chorus, but has almost nothing to do with the rest of the song. They do use the word “falsities” in here though and that’s really my favorite part of the song. I have no idea what kind of rating to give this so I’m going to refrain entirely from doing so. The A-side is fun if you want some classic Ramones-style punk (or, as a bus aficionado, have been looking for a personal anthem); I’d avoid the other song, but you can do whatever you want if you have a higher tolerance for that sort of thing. 

(thefrans.bandcamp.com)

Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email vaguelythreatening@gmail.com or send it directly to the Observer: PO Box 770203, Lakewood, OH 44107.

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Volume 20, Issue 4, Posted 1:44 PM, 02.21.2024