Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Brett Allen and Nick Luka at New Monkey Studio
Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg and his troop of Avi Buffalo bandmates are not imposing in person. They don't cut figures that you'd pay much mind or worry to. They are just barely adults - almost. Drummer Sheridan Riley still has another semester left of high school courses, but Zahner-Isenberg, fellow singer and keyboardist Rebecca Coleman and bassist Arin Fazio are just barely beyond their cap and gown moments of last spring. They are small young folks, Zahner-Isenberg - or Mr. Avi Buffalo himself if you'd like - is maybe 5-feet, 6-inches on a good day and looks as if he should be getting his first newspaper route any day now. The good news to report is that everything is deceptive with this tender young group of friends. He will never need a paper route and as soon as Avi Buffalo can start hitting the road with full-on abandon, you'd better believe that they'll age quickly, assume some of the needed thick skin and jadedness, all while wooing crowds everywhere. Such a promising band has never come in such a pint-sized package and we'll be watching this foursome grow into its exponential potential right before our very eyes. Their elbows will jut out of the yarn in their sweaters and the fabric wrapping over their knees will wear out as they blasting through substantial growth spurts as the crowds grow bigger and bigger. It will undoubtedly be one of the most heralded bands to come out of this coming March's South By Southwest music conference/festival in Austin, Texas and from there, who knows what will happen. It seems like a whole lot of gushing, you say, wondering where all of the bluster might come from. You're skeptical, but sitting down with the four luxuriously scrappy and detailed songs in this four-song session, taped at Elliott Smith's old studio in Van Nuys, California, while we were in town doing a set with Kris Kristofferson, and it's evident that Avi Buffalo has been served with the chops and instincts that it takes to build beautifully aching and mysterious indie rock songs. "Remember Last Time" is a glowing piece of music that as Zahner-Isenberg and Coleman both singing, "I've never written a love song," and we're all pretty sure they're lying, pulsing out of the center of one as they speak, popping from the wood that they clustered together on the cold ground and lit a match to, providing a smoky sensation and a crackling little burn over Riley's badgering and ripping drum rolls and some searing guitar play. Zahner-Isenberg is a tremendous guitarist already, with inventive musicianship at the ready and his high-wire vocals are distinctive and fluid, working ideally with those of Coleman, a former high school crush of his, now just a friend. The songs come across as sprawling and multi-dimensioned takes on puzzlement and cracking through the hardships of young and undeveloped love, while making the subject matter sound mature and interchangeable with the relationship misery of a couple twice or thrice as old. They find ways to sound like "Harvest" and "After The Gold Rush"-era Neil Young, with soft-spoken sentiments, cured with flurries of tempers ever so slightly held in check. It's easy to relish the dreaminess of Avi Buffalo, but it's just as easy to relish their many instances of nearly breaking something, of letting the frustrations of the content turn them red. It's an exciting combination to keep all eyes on.
Avi Buffalo Official Site
Sub Pop Records