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Butchers of Sky Valley

Butchers of Sky Valley

(Heeled & Heavy; US: 5 Nov 2013; UK: 5 Nov 2013)

Mixed Bag From New York Quartet

Butchers of Sky Valley play a capable, sometimes-invigorating style of bluesy guitar rock that, at its best, transcends the genre to achieve something singular. Opening track “Black Magic” combines tasty guitar licks, dreamy vocals and a propulsive beat into a head-nodding sonic stew that will satisfy guitarheads of all ages. That proves to be the album’s high point, although a few subsequent numbers do incorporate foot-stomping energy into their vigorous, guitar-driven workouts – “It’s Not the Pale Moon That Excites Me” is especially satisfying in this regard, while the nervy “Pony Up” and keyboard-enriched “Mayday Revival” are winning too. Elsewhere, though, the energy flags as the band tries for a different, low-key stoner vibe, but mainly just undermines their strengths in the process. “Get Loose” is especially dire, with the vocalist declaring unconvincingly that “I got the blues so bad”, but the listless “Bereft Theft” and “What the Devil Don’t Say” fall into this trap as well (although that fiddle is unexpected, and fun). A mixed bag, then, incorporating both a few nuggets and a few duds. Let’s hope the band plays to its strengths next time around, and produces the modern-rock masterpiece it seems capable of.

Rating:

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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Butchers of Sky Valley - "Pony Up"
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