Album: Half A Native
Label: New West Records
Release Date: 03/03/2015
The opening chords remind me of The Band and that always bodes well. As the album progresses, though, Buxton unveils its own dusty, ethereal, sparkling, quietly understated sound that alternates between hypnotic textures and punchy hooks. This is the Houston-based band’s third studio album and second for the label. For this effort, the band enlisted a producer for the first time and, to get out of their routines, recorded in Los Angeles under the direction Thom Monahan.
The band leader, vocalist/guitarist Sergio Trevino, was raised in rural Texas by Mexican parents. So, in one sense, as he never quite found a comfortable cultural balance, he parallels the band’s search for its identity. Buxton’s first two albums plied folk-rock territory and broadened their fan base beyond Houston. For this recording, Buxton adds a third guitarist and ventures into some new realms. Trevino says, “We take from a lot of different genres and present it in a way that I think is most honest for us. You’ll hear rock, folk, country, ambience, and distortion, all interpreted through us”.
This is one of those albums that absolutely demands a full listen of all tracks to appreciate Buxton’s gifts for shifting sounds and moods. Nonetheless, a few of the cuts deserve special mention. “Old Haunt” is a dark, languorous, twangy tune featuring the group’s three guitarists. Its polar opposite, “Miss Catalina 1992” bursts forth with an upbeat vibe. Pianist Adam MacDougal from Chris Robinson Brotherhood adds a honky-tonk groove to “Icebreaker” and the album’s closer, “Pool Hall” perfectly captures that late night sensation of meeting a special someone you’d like to get to know better. Buxton sneaks up on you and you’ll be going back repeatedly to explore their varied approach.
– Jim Hynes