Buffalo Tom – Sleepy Eyed

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 3)

One of the things about Buffalo Tom is that they seem like ordinary, nice guys. They don’t say outlandish things, or throw tantrums on airplanes, or berate audiences, or give difficult interviews. They’re just three humble dudes who like to play guitars, sometimes real loud. In other words, they are music fans who took it to the next level. I don’t really want to meet my heroes (and heroes is a strong word here anyway) but Buffalo Tom are probably pretty cool.

What I Think of This Album

This is easily the most fun, carefree album of Buffalo Tom’s career. Apparently tired of both the gloom of Let Me Come Over and the gleam of Big Red Letter Day, they cut loose a bit here and recorded a more direct, upbeat set. The sound is lively and the material tends to be heavy on rockers; basically, marry the energy and volume of Come Over with the melodies, skill, and lightness of Big Red, and you end up with the best of both worlds on Sleepy Eyed.

“Tangerine” charges out of the gate as one of their best poppy songs, and gritty, oddly ominous and hypnotic “Summer” nonetheless sounds like a sunnier track off of Come Over. Relatedly, there is a hard lilt to the tuneful “Kitchen Door” (plus a key change! And a harmonica! And backing “oooo-oooo”s!) that would make it one of the more aggressive songs on Big Red. I love the line “I’m the baseball team from Baltimore.” I don’t know why. Chris Colbourn sang and harmonica’d on the track, so I am going to assume he wrote it.

A completely unexpected and unholy scream is the intro to “Rules,” which is honestly the best thing about it (though I like the drumming by Tom Maginnis, who is also credited with “hollers,” so he basically makes this track). The emotive vocals of “It’s You” match the powerful playing – more thunderous drumming – to create a solid deep cut. Similarly, “When You Discover” is a strong pop song.

“Sunday Night” and “Clobbered” are downcast but polished. The energy returns on emphatic “Your Stripes,” where Bill Janovitz employs an appealing rasp and Colbourn provides some nice harmonies. “Sundress” is full of nostalgia – another upbeat song – and the same applies to riffy “Souvenir.”

The graceful, sincere “Twenty Points” is hands-down the best ballad on the album, showing real growth from Colbourn. “Crueler” nicely alternates tempos.

The Best Thing About This Album

The songs are mostly of the same quality. I’m going to go with “Kitchen Door.”

Release Date

July, 1995

The Cover Art

Fair to middlin’. The color pallete is terrible; the image is weird but neither funny nor scary nor even silly. It’s just there. The fonts are not good.

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