Buffalo Tom – Let Me Come Over

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

Buffalo Tom was another New England band done good – joining the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., the Throwing Muses, the Lemonheads, the Blake Babies – this time out of U Mass-Amherst. It took them a little to find their footing (their first two albums are utterly forgettable) and they never really became the stars they could have, but they made some damn fine music (and continue to play). The songwriting was split between Bill Janovitz and Chris Colbourn but I can never tell who wrote what. This is another example of “the little band that could.”

What I Think of This Album

Once derided as “Dinosaur Jr Jr,” Buffalo Tom broke through with this third album, showcasing some strong songwriting and considerable musical growth. For such a solid effort, though, this is a really dour album. Buffalo Tom does not sound like they’re having any fun. They approach earnestness here, and that’s a dangerous thing, because “earnest” normally translates to “boring and self-important.” The saving grace is that they mix melody and power so well on their best songs here that it doesn’t matter that they might be scowling their way through it.

Standout “Taillights Fade” is all anguish and angst, with some expertly nuanced playing conveying the intensity of the lyrics. A well-placed mandolin (?) mellotron (?) and piano buoy the lively “Mountains of Your Head” (“I’m catatonic but ready to roll”). “Mineral” starts out being one thing and develops magically into a sparkling number with some excellent guitar interplay. The boys spread out a bit on the acoustic, folk-soul “Larry,” though they still manage to whip up a storm. “Porchlight” is a fantastic song, mixing acoustic guitars and bits of feedback with the best vocal on the album.

Similarly, the acoustic “Frozen Lake” is a stunner, with some nice tambourine hits (“I / I’m borderline / Most every time”). “Saving Grace” is a nice little rocker. And “Crutch” expertly modulates over the course of its four minutes. There is a Soul Asylum element to both the pounding “Darl” and the plodding “I’m Not There.” I can do without “Velvet Roof.” But even a downer like “Staples” benefits from some terrific drumming and aggressive riffing, and the same is true of repetitive, pained “Stymied.”

This was produced by Sean Slade and Paul Q. Kolderie (Uncle Tupelo, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Hole, Radiohead).

The Best Thing About This Album

While “Taillights” is appropriately a classic, I would gladly trade my car and home to have written “Porchlight.”

Release Date

March, 1992

The Cover Art

Um, this is from an issue of National Geographic (which is neither here nor there, ultimately) and it seems very exploitative and tone deaf. Not a fan.

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