Buddy Banter Paradise Thrillz (Self-released)
Last month, when I asked Buddy Banter vocalist / drummer Steven Perez Oira what records he was listening to repeatedly, his reply was The Replacements' Let It Be and, specifically, the track "Favorite Thing."
Had I not asked before listening to Buddy Banter's new album, Paradise Thrillz, I might have figured it out on my own. That influence comes through even more clearly live, as the band has a tendency to rip through catchy alt-rock tunes with even more velocity and recklessness, but that stoned, drunken slacker abandon is a central, essential part of Buddy Banter's debut.
To be fair, Buddy Banter don't sound that much like The Replacements—it's more a feeling than an aesthetic. Stylistically, their catchy, three-chord tunes have more in common with the insecure crunch of Weezer or the surf-laden loud-quietloud dynamics of The Pixies. But when hearing the trio charge through a track like "High With Me" (chorus: "Get high with me / Get wild with me in the streets"), it's easy to picture the band tearing up a dingy studio, surrounded by beer cans and cigarette butts.
The group's youthful hedonism is charming on "High With Me," but slightly less so on "Little Devil (Come and Kick It)" and, frankly, a little irritating by the time the snotty "Psycho" rolls around. And while the appeal of the band's garage rock is easy to hear, particularly in a live setting, Buddy Banter are far more impressive when they lay off the fuzzbox a little and let the tempo ease. "Insane" is one such example, a gorgeous, shimmering dream-pop tune that carries one of the band's best melodies, which bleeds into a fuzzy yet infectiously wordless chorus. Even more impressive—and, for that matter, surprising— is "I Miss You," a breathtaking shoegaze track with some affecting lyrics about (as far as I can tell) a dead pet. Oira allows himself the luxury of vulnerability here, and it pays off handsomely.
Though Paradise Thrillz is short, it goes in a lot of different directions, some of them raw and messy, some of them polished and pretty. And while it's probably more fun to pound through the rockers, it's on the slower tracks where the band truly shines.