BAND OF THE WEEK: BUFFALO TOOTH

16 Oct

If only we could decipher the mystery inherent in the album title, we would have the confidence to declare “Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce” by Buffalo Tooth (Captcha Records) to be an indisputable, irrefutable, heart-pounding, corner-rounding, out-of-control, high-octane-cosmic-funny car, rock and roll dream of an album.

But there’s something holding us back. “Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce” – what could it possibly mean?

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This is the question we ponder. We searched high – high, high, high – and low for a clue, some kind of a sign, even the slightest glimpse of a possible explanation. In this regard, “Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce,” however, is playing its cards close to the vest. Or, perhaps, keeping its stash in the hip pocket, so to speak.

In all other ways, however, Buffalo Tooth are willing to share. “Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce” burns smooth and strong, all the way through, successfully sheared of any stems or seeds set to clog its chamber. Despite its confounding title, there’s approximately zero-percent of slow-rolled, pastoral garden beauty to be found. There is, however, approximately 100-percent of livin’ for givin’ the Devil his due, and on “Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce,” Buffalo Tooth are burnin’, are burnin’, are burnin’ for you.

And good golly, “Miss Molly” sure likes to ball, all ancestral ultra-amped riffing, descending directly from the ghosts of the Grande Ballroom (regardless of Buffalo Tooth chewing their cud in California), unafraid to answer the ultimate musical questions (“Dude, what would have happened if Dr. Know from Bad Brains had replaced Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple, right around ‘Fireball’?”), topped off with a ji-ji-ji-ji-ji-ji-jittery vocal attack that threatens to be the star of the show, or perhaps the fire that lights the bowl for the album as a whole (in places, it’s a bit like early Damned with a medical marijuana card – score one for David Vape-ian).

Yet again – what could that title possibly mean? “Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce”? It simply doesn’t make any sense.

“Miss Molly” certainly hits the spot. But then, so does “Mr. Vibrator,” as you might expect. Its neighbor on the album, “Mr. Vibrator” is a collection of criminally insane drum fills, topped by commando-guitar assault. And by the time the group gropes itself into “Space Polygamy,” all bets are off (and perhaps your clothes, too), with the song again featuring some of the most effortlessly awesome melodies moaned since Diamond Head went electric, while also magically clocking in at the highly under-appreciated “less-than two minutes” mark. In fact, five of the thirteen songs on “Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce” fall in to this holy area of rock and roll perfection, and “Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce” is all the stronger for it.

Truth be told, its confounding title is the only question mark throughout the entirety of “Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce,” all other elements announcing themselves clearly as an otherworldly, unhinged cosmic rock and roll explosion, delivered with the grace, power and subtlety of a rip from a four-foot gravity bong, genuflecting with all sincerity before the pyramids of Cool Ranch Doritos.

Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce” is released by Captcha Records on October 21.

“In this wider sense, our entire life has been training. The question is: training in what? This question means: training in which direction? If we train ourselves to reach for a snack or pick up the phone to text-message whenever we feel frightened or bored, this is definitely training. The next time we feel uncomfortable we will also tend to reach for some comfort outside ourselves, eventually establishing a deeply ingrained habit, another brick in the wall of our mental prison. Are we training in how to distract ourselves from inner discomfort or anxiety? Are we training in numbing ourselves in the face of fear, or training in waking up? Training in opening the heart, or training in shutting down?”

– Gaylon Ferguson, “Natural Wakefulness

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