|Avi Buffalo — At Best Cuckold|
Avi Buffalo — At Best Cuckold
Ξ♦Ξ The Californian eccentric's second album is full of glorious madness.
Ξ♦Ξ Formed: 2009 in Long Beach, CA
Location: Long Beach, California
Album release: September 8, 2014
Record Label: Sub Pop
01 So What 3:23
02 Memories of You 4:12
03 Can’t Be Too Responsible 3:19
04 Two Cherished Understandings 1:43
05 Overwhelmed with Pride 4:03
06 Found Blind 3:07
07 She Is Seventeen 3:05
08 Think It’s Gonna Happen Again 2:59
09 Oxygen Tank 5:29
10 Won’t Be Around No More 3:50
℗ 2014 Sub Pop Records
Written by: Avi Zahner–Isenberg
Producer: Avi Zahner–Isenberg
Ξ♦Ξ 2014 At Best Cuckold Top Heatseekers #27
Ξ♦Ξ John Anderson Guitar, Guitar (Bass)
Ξ♦Ξ Anthony Arvizu Engineer
Ξ♦Ξ Sasami Ashworth Horn
Ξ♦Ξ Avi Buffalo Engineer, Primary Artist, Producer
Ξ♦Ξ Stuart Brantley Engineer
Ξ♦Ξ Mark Chalecki Mastering
Ξ♦Ξ David Dillons Clarinet, Saxophone
Ξ♦Ξ John Hanson Producer
Ξ♦Ξ Ryan Helms Engineer
Ξ♦Ξ Jesse LeDoux Design
Ξ♦Ξ Eydie McConnell Photography
Ξ♦Ξ James Musshorn Engineer
Ξ♦Ξ Jay Pellicci Engineer
Ξ♦Ξ Sheridan Riley Drums, Percussion
Ξ♦Ξ Chris Sorem Producer
Ξ♦Ξ Nicolas Vernhes Mixing
Ξ♦Ξ Avi Zahner–Isenberg Composer, Guitar, Piano, Vocals
By Dan Stubbs, September 7, 2014; Score: 9/10
Ξ♦Ξ Fans of Tim Burton movies know that a touch of darkness is most effective when candy–coated. So it is for Avi Buffalo's hugely accomplished 'At Best Cuckold', a record that documents the spiralling weirdness of one young man's psyche via a cascade of gorgeous melody. The prime example of this is 'Think It's Gonna Happen Again' where, in a butter–wouldn't–melt falsetto, and over plinky plonky piano, frontman Avi Zahner–Isenberg sings, "Couple nights ago, I ran over two dogs. Then I ate them afterwards". Sweet and sour is the dominant flavour of the album, cooing shades of Elliott Smith and Crosby, Stills & Nash in one ear, then a whispered dirty joke in the other. Witness centrepiece 'Overwhelmed With Pride' with its flourishes of French horn and swirling organs. Close your eyes and picture Kermit The Frog singing it, nephew Robin on stringy green knee, a ping–pong ball–eyed menagerie bouncing around doing the backing vocals. Then you get to the line that goes, "And these birds seem so fucking free, they're nothing compared to me", which doesn't seem like the kind of thing Kermit would say at all. Fortaken: http://www.nme.com/ © Ξ♦Ξ Sheridan Riley Drums, Percussion
Ξ♦Ξ Avigdor Zahner–Isenberg began writing songs as a high school sophomore, using the name Avi Buffalo as his musical alias. Within a year's time, the Long Beach native had put together a full band comprising drummer Sheridan Riley, bassist Arin Fazio, and keyboardist Rebecca Coleman. After playing several small shows, the teenagers won the support of engineer Aaron Embry, who welcomed Avi Buffalo into his home studio for a round of recording sessions. The band's quirky lo–fi pop songs also attracted attention from Sub Pop Records, and the label released Avi Buffalo's first single in late 2009, followed by a self–titled full–length outing in April 2010.
Ξ♦Ξ Acclaim from the press led to a prestigious summer 2010 tour of Europe which took in U.K. festivals such as Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds, Green Man, and All Tomorrow's Parties. This won the band many new fans, but also led Zahner–Isenberg to conclude that a few years of recuperation were in order before the recording of a second album was attempted. During this period he was enlisted by friends' acts such as Kevin Litrow's N.O.W. and Douglas James Sweeney's Arjuna Genome to produce tracks, and on New Year's Day 2013 he began recording new Avi Buffalo material at a San Francisco studio owned by John Vanderslice. Replacing Fazio, former Girls guitarist John Anderson played bass on these sessions, while Riley continued behind the drums among the multiple lineup changes. However, it was longtime friend Doug Brown who became the band's touring bassist shortly afterwards, with Anthony Vezirian also joining on keyboards. Titled At Best Cuckold, their second record appeared in September 2014. ~ Andrew Leahey & James Wilkinson, Rovi
By James Christopher Monger; Score: ****
By Brian Burlage | posted on 26 Sep 2014 | Score: ***½
By Ian Cohen; September 10, 2014; Score: 7.2
Press: Frank Nieto — firstname.lastname@example.org | Bekah Zietz — email@example.com
Agent: North America: Steven Himmelfarb — firstname.lastname@example.org | Outside of North America: James Alderman email@example.com
Ξ♦Ξ Embarking upon a sophomore effort can be a daunting task for any young upstart, and there’s no denying Avi Buffalo’s own bar was set quite high with 2010’s celebrated eponymous debut. Fear not, dear fans/family/friends/friends of friends/newcomers, there’s nothing in this tale about The Second Album — a.k.a.At Best Cuckold, out September 9th on Sub Pop — that even remotely resembles a slump; in fact, it would be entirely appropriate to say that this Long Beach, California, enterprise is getting better with age.
Ξ♦Ξ Ah, yes, age — much was made of it when Avi Buffalo’s first album hit the ground running, and for good reason: While their Millikan High School classmates were preoccupied with quaint and youthful pursuits, the musicians behind Avi Buffalo were busy making an off–kilter pop gem that eventually bowled over NME, The AV Club,Pitchfork, the BBC, and numerous other outlets on both sides of the Atlantic whose tastes are respected by the general public. Like a lot of kids their age, the Buffaloes celebrated the end of high school in Europe, but instead of visiting the Louvre and Buckingham Palace, their overseas journeys took them to the festival stages of Reading, Leeds, Glastonbury, the Pavement–curated All Tomorrow’s Parties in Minehead, and beyond.
Ξ♦Ξ So is Avi Buffalo a he or a them? The answer is a definitive yes, as leader Avigdor Zahner–Isenberg has lent his musical nickname — bestowed in childhood by a pal who’d picked up on his friend’s inclination toward spicy chicken wings — to this full–fledged outfit that works something like a solo project in the studio and then builds into a band onstage. Not that he goes it alone when recording — to the contrary, many able–bodied compatriots, including longtime collaborator Sheridan Riley, have assisted with committing his songs to tape — but everything begins and ends with Avi, and after ending a year on the road in support of the first record, he decided to take his time beginning work on the second.
Ξ♦Ξ The creation of At Best Cuckold turned out to be a three–year journey; a stretch of time that resembles its predecessor. While transitioning from teenager to twentysomething and traversing the interpersonal wilds which accompany that age, Avi kept playing music (even picking up a new instrument every now and again), collaborated with and produced several friends (including Kevin Litrow’s N.O.W. project and Douglas James Sweeney’s Arjuna Genome), and even started DJing. He also wrote new songs, and by the time 2013 rolled around, it was time to begin capturing his latest sparks — with that, the band headed into the studio on New Year’s Day.
Ξ♦Ξ The “clean and tight” recordings from Tiny Telephone served as perfect skeletons for Avi to flesh out with his analog and digital overdubs, which were completed over the next year or so at various locations around Southern California. (“I’ve always had a lot of fun with overdubs,” says Avi. “Maybe my favorite instrument is overdubs.”) The result — which was completed and mixed with Nicolas Vernhes at his Rare Book Room studio in Brooklyn — is a quirky yet comforting set of songs driven by refined pop songcraft and sneaky moments of grandeur that stick in the brain. Classic–sounding melodies are delivered with a modern sensibility, creating an album that’s equal parts timely and timeless. Well–placed piano, sax, clarinet, French horn, and cornet further enhance the proceedings with a glorious orch–pop sheen.
Ξ♦Ξ “I really like some of the ballad aspects of this record — it’s kind of my tribute to the ballad,” says Avi. “I predicted in an interview during the time of my first record what I was going to use in my next record, and I said a lot of major seventh chords, which, to me, sounded like laying down. And that ended up in the record, too.”
Ξ♦Ξ Lyrically, there are a lot of unsettled emotions on the album; a product of Avi observing the world around him and writing “about life, dealing with relationships and yourself, and trying to keep your head up and keep learning amidst whatever it is you’re going through.” Disappointment (“Thought we understood each other well / I was wrong as usual”) and anxiety (“Someone told me if I messed around / then my head would fill up with guilty clouds”) abound, though there’s also a feeling that everything is eventually going to turn out okay, even when everything seems to be falling apart during closer “Won’t Be Around No More.” If anything, Avi’s passionate delivery is the ultimate source of optimism.
Ξ♦Ξ At the ripe old age of 23, Avi Buffalo is ready to take on the world (again), armed with all of the experience he’s compiled over the past few years. And he’s made sure the second time around will be just as memorable as the first.
– Arin Fazio
– Joel Jasper
– Rebecca Coleman
– Evan Trine
– Michael Beswetherick
Rotating past and present members:
– Barbara Kramer
– Adam Celik
– Andrew Celik
– Jed Davis
– David Dillon
|Avi Buffalo — At Best Cuckold|