PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Buckwheat Zydeco: Jackpot!

Jason MacNeil

Oh mon dieu! Les roi de zydeco est... sorry, Buckwheat Zydeco's first album in eight years is a tad tamer and Hammond organ heavier than usual but still filled with the accordion-tinged blues found in Cajun bayous everywhere.


Buckwheat Zydeco

Jackpot!

Label: Tomorrow Recordings
US Release Date: 2005-06-07
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

I was a kid when I got hooked into listening to Doug Kershaw. The bayou fiddler's records were always around the house and were instantly enjoyable. That passion and joy is a hard find and, more importantly, a tougher sell these days. But there are still those plying their craft with the same Cajun flair. Buckwheat Zydeco's new album has a lot of that drive, although the opening "I'm Gonna Love You Anyway" finds him sounding like he about to duel with guitarist Robert Cray, only Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural, Jr. has his hands on an accordion. The horns and organ tend to inflate the song needlessly but the song still works thanks to the almost Austin blues format and flavor. His solos are the highlight on this tune also, creating his own swinging Cajun blues.

When the band gets chugging and rolling, though, as it does on the lovely, jumpy, jerky "It Must Be Magic", they are in their realm. Here they nail the tune thanks to some backing vocals by Catherine Russell and the tight rhythm section of bassist Lee Allen Zeno and drummer Gerard St. Julien. Throw in the subtle rubboard (if that instrument can be subtle) and you have yourself an infectious little romp. It might be a stretch, but the connection between Fats Domino and Buckwheat Zydeco is quite apparent on this tune, although the latter draws the song out near the four-minute mark. You will also be hitting the repeat button a few times after this one.

The group also adheres to Zydeco Commandment #1 and #2: Thou shalt boogie. Boogie, boogie, boogie... Nowhere is this found more than on the played-down pizzazz of "Rock, Boogie, Shout", which uses the horns to great effect. The song also is completely fleshed out, keeping the vibe going and leaving you wanting more. However, the title track is a funky affair that really seems to suck any momentum out of the album. Dural sings about winning the jackpot but he missed a number or two by the sounds of this effort. The chorus is okay but the verses just lie around without much oomph or verve. The organ and accordion during the soul-teeming bridge are sweet but they're not enough to carry the song from start to finish. Don't let it get you down, though, as the band shines on the tight, toe-tapping party rave up entitled "Come And Get Yourself Some", possessing the classic up-tempo pace Dural fashioned with the Red Hot Louisiana Band in the '70s. This leads nicely into the Acadian-esque "Old Times La La" that is a pure Zydeco tune with a slight shuffle to it as Dural sings en Francais for all of it.

After an average "Come Back Home Baby" makes little to no impression, the group then offers up "Changes". And no, not a Zydeco cover of the Thin White Duke! On the contrary, this is a good Zydeco ditty that has Dural giving some of his best blues-soul lyrics over his accordion playing. "You Lookin' For Me?" isn't that stellar, however, coming off as that sort of tune that isn't quite filler but not quite solid enough to be taken seriously. This is where the album takes a turn but not for the better, something the band calls "Organic Buckwheat". Here the main emphasis is on Dural's mastery of the Hammond B-3 and electric keyboard on "Buck's Going Downtown". While it's a strong solo effort by him, Zydeco it is not. It has a lot in common with the blues, but with no power or overt soul.

This track is also part of a Buck "trilogy", as the ensuing tune is dubbed "Buck's Going Uptown". The song, dedicated to Jimmy Smith, has more substance going for it with a faster, pick-me-up beat to it, resembling something you might have heard in the juke joints decades ago. Again, it's not zydeco, but Dural executes this track far better than the previous one. The horns beef things up also, as Dural goes to town on the Hammond organ. But he pushes the envelope way over the musical desk with "Buck's Going to Frenchtown", a reggae-ish song that seems quite foreign to his fans or following. Perhaps if he ended it with "Buck's Going Back to Zydecotown" it would've ended on a high note. As it stands, though, Buckwheat Zydeco is great at what he does, but he seems to be venturing into Buckwheat Hammondco.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.

Books

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon
Music

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.

Music

'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.

Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


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.