Last American Buffalo
"Marquis for the Debutante"

(Self-Released 2007)Last American Buffalo - Marquis for the Debutante

"Marquis for the Debutante" is the latest collection of new songs by post-heartland rockers Last American Buffalo. The instrumentation is more Wallflowers than Neil Young and Crazy Horse. That is to say it's less stand-out for its time than it is influenced by those who've gone before. It also isn't limited to whatever geography may constitute "the heartland."

Lead singer and guitar player Kevin Compton has a voice that is to Jakob Dylan's what hot tea is to coffee. Or what old leather work shoes are to new ones. They're a little cleaner, not as worn out, and able to walk a little farther and higher. He's got a comfortable, unpretentious presence.

The disc starts off with "Breaking up Mine," which is probably the most common sounding track on it, but Compton's vocals establish themselves right away. Things turn around on "Dance Class for a Madame," on which the drummer gets a bit creative on the verses, and then thunders through on the choruses. The guitar breaks off into a "Flock of Seagulls," early U2 single note high rise that fuses the band into one.

"Pistol," "For London Again," and "Privateer" suggest that Last American Buffalo listen to the Old '97s and even the Shins, though it could just be that they share a few of the same influences. The song that jumps out as a single is "Ordinary Girl," which is sung by guitar player Jesse Taylor. All players are firing cohesively throughout, and the chorus has the radio hey-day stickiness about it.

"She's Alright" stumbles out of the gate with a stiff version of an old soul dance beat. The guitars stick to rhythm instead of the more expressive bursts on their other songs. And when drummer Jesse Carmichael kicks into the push-up beat, it lacks a pay off without his cohorts blasting away with him. Carmichael's best moments come on "Monster," which doesn't quite live up to its name, but his drums do their best to give it a sense of urgency. Though everyone else keeps up, only Compton meets him all the way.

There's organ sprayed all over most of the songs, giving it even more of that late sixties, early seventies spooky sunrise feel. The closer, "Sunshine," even adds harmonica for an after-all-nighter look back. Lyrically, the songs come off as black and white photos of their experiences more than anything too clever or poetic. There are a few familiar phrases, but Compton delivers them convincingly, often with an exposed vulnerability.