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Mad Buffalo

Red and Blue

(Self-released; US: 21 Feb 2012; UK: 19 Mar 2012)

From memorable to meh

Mad Buffalo is the stage name for Montana’s Randy Riviere, who teams up here with some dozen backing musicians to offer a set of country and alt-country tunes ranging from the memorable to the meh. Album opener “Be Here Tomorrow” benefits from a hummable melody and an underlying wistfulness, while “Emily,” the best song on the record, carries an understated urgency that is never allowed to boil over into melodrama. Closer “Shiloh” is a haunting tune that shows off Riviere’s voice to good effect. In between, though, are several by-the-numbers country romps that are flatter than a Nebraska cornfield, including a pair of Johnny Cash wannabes (“Big Joe Walker” and “Tides”) that just leave you wishing you were hearing someone else. That’s never a good thing. Riviere has enough originality and songwriting chops to dispense with the clichés; let’s hope he does so next time around.

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DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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