Gravedigging is an awesome garage rock ‘n’ roll album from a band who have so far threatened without actually nailing a bona fide tail on the donkey. However, described as a movie waiting to happen, Gravedigging might well be an early contender for soundtrack of the year.
The Buttertones sound couldn’t come from anywhere else but California and, on their second record, a California very much after sundown when the wannabes and chancers come out to play as well as the less wholesome characters and the washed up old hippies of The Golden State. From the opening two chord riff and “just one of those nights/got me right between the eyes” couplet of ‘Pistol Whip‘ the dark connotations are always close by. These Doorsian sinisterisms are apparent in the haunting BVs and just out of key surf solos that pepper this record, especially on the closing title track which sees the band cast as Dead Kennedys or Fat White Family at their most louche. In fact, these are two bands the listener may reference throughout.
Darlings of the alt. underground, suddenly finding yourself one of the year’s most hyped bands must be like having a winning lottery ticket but knowing the bank is closed until Monday, as your only press shot is suddenly on every music website east of Long Beach. With the album readied and a tour booked the LA-based band find themselves in somewhat of an indie crisis, presumably keen to take advantage of a legitimate gilt-edged opportunity but without going all Parquet Courts on us.
Gravedigging is not without variation either, the doo-wop ballad, ‘I Ran Away‘ is the ‘Enchantment Under The Sea‘ without the temptation to tack on a cheesy guitar solo. And that authenticity is part of this record’s appeal, it’s more earthy than, say, Car Seat Headrest or Night Beats, but comfortable pared with obvious bedfellows Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees.
Elsewhere shades of The Specials or even Madness on the instrumental ‘Moroccan Monsoon‘, the unsettling Hammond on ‘Ghost Safari‘ is almost lost in the punk maelstrom and on ‘A Tear For Rosie‘ they show they can turn their hand to pitch black Americana as well.
In fact it’s difficult to fault anything on here. From ‘Neon Cowboy’’s aptly galloping riff to the speakeasy sax of ‘Two Headed Shark‘ and ‘Matador‘ (the latter plays out like early Dexys if they had relocated to Sunset Strip, or the anti-Duran Duran!). It’s such a great record and quite possibly the garage album we’ve all been waiting for. Breakout single ‘Sadie’s A Sadist‘ perhaps sums it up best, a breakneck rockabilly anthem and soon to be their calling card. Time will only tell if it becomes their burden but for now there is enough quality and depth on Gravedigging from start to finish to warrant the hype.
Gravedigging is released on 31st March through Innovative Leisure.
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