West coast indie/folk rockers Avi Buffalo are the perfect answer to anyone looking for some breezy summer tunes. On the surface the young group seems like a shallow Shins or Death Cab for Cutie clone, but if you dive below the surface of their 45 minute debut you might be surprised by the depth you find. This is not your typical 'teen angst' breakup record, but a heartfelt and endearing account of all the awkward moments and sexual frustration experienced by a guy in high school. It's a record that has an uncanny way of connecting with its audience on a very personal level, successfully capturing all the mixed emotions that churn up inside everyone at that point in their life.
Avi Buffalo's self-titled debut is a great collection of well written, performed and produced folk rock gems. A feat not easily achieved by seasoned musicians made even more impressive when you consider that most of the band is still in high school. Formed by the talented Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg (Avi for short) and a group of high school friends; Rebecca Coleman (keyboard/vocals), Sheridan Riley (drums) and Arin Fazio (bass). An eclectic band drawing inspiration from many sources including west-coast rock, experimental folk and 60s jazz, Avi Buffalo has a stripped down sound that can come off as almost surreal with jangling guitars, minimal drums and spacey reverb sprinkled over duel vocal harmonies.
Every track on the album is worth a listen with my personal favorites being the jazz flavored "Five Little Sluts" and the shimmering "What's It In For?" The playful folk duet "One Last" shows off the bands range as a group and is a definite must listen for fans of breezy indie rock. Keyboardist Rebecca Coleman's angelic voice does a great job of complimenting Isenberg's high-pitched falsetto creating a unique flavor to the record. The dual vocal approach works great for this group as they prove again with the stripped down album closer "Where's Your Dirty Mind."
The slow-burning ballad "Jessica" is another must hear track showcasing some of the most impressive songwriting I've seen this year. "Jessica, why do you always make it so hard," Isenberg sings with frustration, "You know I'm kidding but sometimes I feel like you're all I've got." The engaging lyrics about teenage love and loss hit an emotional depth rarely seen from modern indie rock musicians. "No one can make you lose your faith," he continues, "except for someone who you love." A very deep and personal track wrapped in a fuzzy pop package. Isenberg's wobbly, endearing lyrics and memorable melody could easily put this track into heavy rotation on college radio.
A great debut album with so much potential, this is a group of young but very talented individuals who have a very bright future ahead of them. The group is already touring around the world performing at music festivals such as NXNE and 80/53 as well as opening for Modest Mouse and Blitzen Trapper on several occasions. With every band being advertised as the 'next big thing' I'm glad small bands like Avi Buffalo are still getting the attention they deserve.