It’s hard not to be impressed by Big Bad Buffalo. The indie rock trio comprises former students of School of Rock San Diego, and the lessons clearly paid off. Rarely does a band fresh out of high school sound so confident and adept at their songwriting. For that matter, a band this young rarely gets the chance to open for touring bands such as Into It. Over It. or local heroes like Drive Like fucking Jehu. All before they’re even old enough to hang out at The Casbah.
So yeah, Big Bad Buffalo are a pretty damn good band, and their relative youth (compared to most of the local scene) makes them a rare find (though not unheard of—Tan Sister Radio made a name for themselves as a similarly young and excellent bunch of rock ‘n’ rollers a few years back). With the release of their self-titled debut album, recorded at Singing Serpent Studios (count that as another impressive accomplishment), Big Bad Buffalo mark off another box on a checklist that’s already rich with landmark moments.
Here’s what’s interesting about the band’s debut: For a group of musicians born as the ‘90s were reaching their end, their songs have a definite foot in the San Diego scene of that era. To hear the interplay between Jordan Krimston’s guitar and Silvio Damone’s bass-lines, it’s hard not to pick up on traces of Inch, No Knife or Heavy Vegetable—bands who haven’t been active in quite some time. So Big Bad Buffalo have done their homework, certainly, but to say they simply borrow from the best denies them their own agency and creativity. And whether there’s familiarity to these songs, they’re fun, well written rock tunes that are easy to like.
Big Bad Buffalo’s debut is pretty much all about hooks, choruses and, above all, guitars. Krimston is a fine enough lyricist (though he lets loose his share of silly lines like “wipe your shoes and take off your feet”), but it’s mostly his riffs that make the album the gem that it is. The other component is the rhythm section, which goes well beyond the safety of a 4/4 rock beat in tracks like “Philosopher’s Toned,” allowing some nimble use of interesting time signatures. It’s easy to say that Big Bad Buffalo are impressive for their age, but to focus on their age would seek to diminish the role of their natural talent. They’re just an awesome band, full stop.