Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Buttercup, Battle of Flowers, 2017

Album Review

By Henry Lipput

In 1962, in turning down The Beatles after their audition for Decca Records, Dick Rowe told Brian Epstein, "Guitar bands are on their way out."

Well, it's 2017 and it seems that no one has yet told that to Buttercup. Their new album Battle of Flowers is a must-listen for lovers of guitar pop/rock.

There's the opening "I Can't Explain"-like riff from one of your speakers on "Let It Drop," the doubling up on the instrument near the end of "Acting Thru Music," and the Nada Surf-like playing on "Gud Gurls" (and its CSN vocals). And that's just the first three songs on the album.

Buttercup is based in San Antonio, TX, and Battle of Flowers is their first release in eight years. The album sounds great, and this is in no small part to the way it was recorded. The band -- guitarist Joe Reyes,  bassist odie, and Erik Sanden -- are this time aided by the Navaira brothers (Diego on guitars, keys, percussion, and vocals and Emilio on drums, guitars, keys, percussion, and vocals).

On the band's Bandcamp page for Battle of Flowers, Reyes says, "With the extra guitar, keys and vocals, expertly played and sung by Diego and Emilio, this was the first time we could actually perform and record all of the parts of a song live. And then, like The Beatles, I'd turn one of the monitor speakers towards us and we'd sing all our parts together on one mic. We worked fast and had fun and you can hear that on the record. Larry Crane did a great job mixing what is essentially a live record."

And, speaking of The Beatles, the wonderful Battle of Flowers album cover by Chris Sauter is an homage to Klaus Voorman's iconic, fab artwork on the Revolver cover.

My favorite songs on Battle of Flowers include the lovely, acoustic "Champagne From Spain" and the newest jangly pop classic "Don't Go It Alone."

And then there's the musical salute to the late, great Henry B. Gonzalez, a 37-year Congressman from Texas. In this trying political time, "Henry B. Gonzalez" dares to ask the question, "When did liberal become a bad word?" The song tells the story of how Gonzalez was beaten up by bullies as a child and then grew up to fight bullies in Washington, DC. But the song isn't a dry history lesson; the song rocks and there's even a bit of Pete Townsend-style synth noodling right out of "Teenage Wasteland."

Battle of Flowers is out now on Bedlam and Palo Santo Records.

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