Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording by Ian Harris, Video By Jake Lyle, Words by Landon Kuhlmann
I first discovered Avi Buffalo through my public library. I've always been the type of person who walks out with stacks of CDs after each visit. It was there that I boosted my collection of favorite artists and sometimes, when inspiration had dried up, it was also where I'd discover new favorites. Picking up a random CD in the "New" section simply because the album art attracted you is an exciting way to make those discoveries. And that's all it was. Sometimes it's a freefall.
I'm glad I discovered Avi that way, because he's not the type of artist to shove himself in your face. The band's output is concise: two albums and some singles. But the height of the musical achievement on those records is large enough, and the songs focused and unique enough, to leave us poring over that handful of tunes for years.
Any angle you take with these songs is idiosyncratic: the first thing that takes you over is Avi's voice, which is light and sweet, an instrument in itself that leaves some of the band's best melodies in its wake. It is painfully honest, as if nothing but the truth could be said in that voice. But the lyrics aren't always about the truth and making sense. They're poetic, and move between delightful abstractions and clear declarations: "And these birds seem so fucking free / they're nothing compared to me."
After that it's the guitar playing. There's something about the picking that feels so natural to the song yet new to the instrument, a feeling present in this session just as much as it's present on the records.
My favorite part of this session is the keyboard rendition of Jessica, which was the B-side of Avi Buffalo's first single. The melody and the lyrics are brought to the forefront, as the rest of the band isn't present to add to them. The lullaby-like tonality of the keyboard adds to this version's sense of loneliness, whereas on the record "Jessica" climbs to an energetic apex. The way Avi brings these songs to a solo setting is masterful. The lush, layered indie rock of the records is scaled down into unique performances of the best Avi Buffalo songs.
I don't know if we'll see another Avi Buffalo record, but I'm not too worried. It appears the songs we have are still simmering, still evolving in the mind of the artist. Though the songs have already been written, they continue to have more to say.
Avi Buffalo Official Site