Music

Buck 65: 20 Odd Years

The uneven but dynamic 20 Odd Years is a small component of the complex machine that is Richard Terfry.


Buck 65

20 Odd Years

Contributors: Jenn Grant, Gord Downie, Nick Thorburn, Marie-Pierre Arthur, John Southworth, Hannah Georgas, Olivia Ruiz
Label: WEA
US Release Date: 2011-02-01
UK Release Date: 2011-01-25
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Canada, it cannot be denied, can be a funny place. As a country, it produces hockey players, Hollywood comedians, suburban teen-pop heartthrobs and various other figures of lesser or greater note. It (or a maritime portion of it called Nova Scotia) has also produced a musical artist like Buck 65 (real, unassuming name: Richard Terfry), a furious intermingler of rural sensibilities, urban indie culture, rock attitude, deadpan humor and old-school hip-hop who has creatively finagled his way to national recognition and international acclaim. Not only has Canada birthed a white MC from a strongly Celtic local musical culture who rhymes about baseball, beat-up trucks, and well-endowed centaurs, but it has also granted him a position as a radio DJ on its government-funded media lynchpin, the CBC. One hates to generalize, but Canada, like Buck 65, is wicked and weird.

But then Terfry's mix of subcultural influences is Canada's, too -- a dizzying, post-modern, multicultural stew, the ingredients of which you wouldn't want to have enumerated for you even if it was possible to do so. That strange brew aside, there is something to be said for the persuasive power of longevity, and Terfry has certainly achieved longevity. Hence the title of his latest release, 20 Odd Years, is a characteristically punning reference to his two decades as a working musician. Compiled from four digital/vinyl EPs released at one-month intervals through last summer, 20 Odd Years bears out the mantra Buck 65 spits out to complete the title of the album-opening stomper "Superstars Don't Love": "they play".

This album shows Buck not only at play, but also reconciling himself to the concept of his own (admittedly limited) superstardom. "Superstars Don't Love" tackles these ideas directly in between Buck's trademarked geeky collage of word-images, contrasting the overwhelming and destructive fame of Michael Jackson with his own ironic mirror-image of capitalism's celebrity feedback loop: "livin' life just like in the commercial."

But Buck 65 is no self-obsessed rural Canuck Kanye West, turning every club encounter into boastful declarations of self-doubt. Indeed, he's almost too gregarious, as collaborations dominate 20 Odd Years. Nick Thorburn of Islands and Unicorns fame shares space with Buck on the tweetering "Gee Whiz", while Gord Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip and Canada's forever-reigning Rock Poet Laureate, contributes melodic existential enigmas to the nighttime seaside musings of "Whispers of the Waves". Folk-rock pixie and fellow Nova Scotian Jenn Grant shows up on three tracks (including a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Who By Fire"), as do British-Canadian indie antiquarian John Southworth ("BCC"), silky-voiced Montrealer Marie-Pierre Arthur (the propulsive "Final Approach"), and French crooner Olivia Ruiz (the surf-rock-tinged "Tears of Your Heart"). The most successful partnership may be with Vancouver-based singer-songwriter Hannah Georgas, whose dreamy contributions to the indie-anthem-in-waiting "Stop" align it even more closely with the iconic sound of Broken Social Scene than does the sumptuous rock production.

Generous though his spirit may be, Buck 65 saves the lion's share of the fun for himself. His raps retain their quirky magnetism, their unique juxtaposition of dime-store philosophy and surreal hilarity/ You're never entirely certain of what exactly he's on about, of course, but then that's his art at work. There is one highly notable exception: the side-splitting "Zombie Delight" is Buck's contribution to the indie subculture’s relentless zombie craze, and sparkles with goofy, straightforward rhyming wit ("they don't eat raisins or peanuts or chocolate chips/shoot 'em in the head, it's the zombie apocalypse!"). I won't attempt to claim that such a novelty, appealing as it may be, is somehow representative of Buck 65's musical profile, just as it would be silly to claim that Buck 65 is likewise entirely representative of the kaleidoscope of modern Canadian culture. But the song, and the rest of the uneven but dynamic 20 Odd Years, is a small component of the complex machine that is Richard Terfry, and the sound of his grinding gears continues to be highly satisfying.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.