Buffalo Tom — Three Easy Pieces (2007)

Where have all of the good rock records gone? In a sea of dance pop, sweater rap, country-lite and effeminate sorta-folk, it feels like it’s getting increasingly hard to fish out a fun rock and roll album from all of the new releases. Straight-ahead rock music has been making a comeback of sorts, but Buffalo Tom’s Three Easy Pieces can be used as an audio textbook for how to do it right.

Their first release in nearly a decade, the Boston trio’s seventh long-player illustrates that big changes are sometimes overrated. Their music still sounds like punk through the eyes of the E Street Band, their lyrics are still wistfully easy. But the band–vocalist/guitarist Bill Janovitz, vocalist/bassist Chris Colbourn and drummer Tom Maginnis–sound more comfortable together, and the quality of the music reflects this. Unlike the recent wave of questionable reunions, Buffalo Tom took a break from their 9 to 5 jobs because they enjoy playing together.

Three Easy Pieces isn’t groundbreaking or even ‘album of the year’ material, but it’s the most consistently enjoyable thing I’ve heard this year. It’s an album of all above average songs filled with standout moments: Janovitz’s raspy, soaring tenor punches through the chorus of “September Shirt” in just the right spots; the unexpected Celtic tinge that “Gravity” takes; Colbourn’s lovably happy “Renovating;” and on and on.

Buffalo Tom may have inadvertently spawned the legion of alt.rock clones during the ’90s, but this is no nostalgia act–Three Easy Pieces is the band doing what they do best. And that’s making loud, intelligent rock music.

-jason panella

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