Petty coming through for me
a few good tracks but nothing new

Grade - 1.5

released Mar 8th, 2011

from the album - Lost Weekend - 1.5

from all music


When they released their first album in 1989, the Boston-based trio Buffalo Tom were written off as Dinosaur Jr. junior. Admittedly, their debut was in debt to J Mascis' thundering guitar and folk-tinged songs and it didn't help that Mascis produced the record, either. Over time, Buffalo Tom stripped away their grungier influences and developed into a straight-ahead rock group of the early '90s, capable of throttling rockers and beautiful ballads. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Bill Janovitz, bassist/vocalist Chris Colbourn, and drummer Tom Maginnis, Buffalo Tom began to develop their own style with their second album, 1990's Birdbrain, which featured a noticeable improvement in songwriting. In 1992, Buffalo Tom released Let Me Come Over, a gritty set of driving rock and achingly melancholy ballads; several of its tracks became alternative radio staples, including the gorgeous ballad "Taillights Fade." Despite an increased amount of critical praise and some radio airplay, the album didn't sell. The follow-up, 1993's Big Red Letter Day, featured a more polished, radio-ready production, but the album received only a small push from radio and MTV. "Soda Jerk," the first single from the album, became a minor alternative radio and MTV hit. After a yearlong tour, the group returned in the summer of 1995 with Sleepy Eyed, a return to the more direct sound of Let Me Come Over. Smitten followed in 1998, and two years later a best-of, Asides from Buffalo Tom, arrived. Almost a decade of inactivity followed, but things weren't over for Buffalo Tom; they returned in 2007 with an appearance at SXSW and a new full-length album on the New West label, Three Easy Pieces. Skins, the bandís eighth studio album, arrived in early 2011 through their own Scrawny Records label.

Album Review

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." And as reflects a band of forty-somethings, Skins is an album that deals with the stuff of grown-up lives, from the tale of a father struggling to hold his life together on "The Kids Just Sleep" to the bad vibes and poor decisions of "Lost Weekend." Which isn't to say that Buffalo Tom have lost touch with their strengths; this has always been a group whose members have worn their hearts on their sleeves, and Bill Janovitz, Chris Colbourn, and Tom Maginnis sound as passionate on Skins as they ever have, if a bit more measured, and the dramatic pull of "Down" and the hooks and harmonies of "Guilty Girls" should register with anyone who ever cranked up Let Me Ever Come Over or Sleepy Eyed back in the day. Skins is the product of an older and wiser trio than Buffalo Tom were in their salad days, but it's unmistakably the same band, and if their attack and their concerns have changed a bit with the passage of time, that's a reflection of their innate honesty as much as anything else; they simply are who they are, and on Skins that means they're a gifted and grown-up rock & roll band.

Track Listing

1 Arise, Watch 2:38
2 She's Not Your Thing 2:04
3 Down 4:26
4 Don't Forget Me 4:08
5 Guilty Girls 2:22
6 Miss Barren Brooks 3:11
7 Paper Knife 3:33
8 Here I Come 3:02
9 Lost Weekend 4:06
10 The Hawks & the Sparrows 3:46
11 The Big Light 4:02
12 The Kids Just Sleep 3:16
13 Out of the Dark 4:27
14 [Untitled Hidden Track] 1:09