Ovlov — „Buds“ (Nov., 19, 2021)
• Steve Hartlett.
Location: Newtown, Connecticut
Album release: November 19th, 2021
Record Label: Exploding Sound Records
1. Baby Shea 1:37
2. Eat More 4:15
3. Land of Steve~O 2:50
4. The Wishing Well 1:58
5. Strokes 2:11
6. Cheer Up, Chihiro! 4:30
7. Moron, Pt. 2 2:15
8. Feel the Pain 4:48
• Steve Hartlett played guitar and sang
• Theo played drums
• Jon played bass
• Morgan Luzzi played guitar
• Erin McGrath sang on tracks 1 & 4, wrote & recorded her parts in her apartment in New Haven, CT
• Alex Gehring sang on tracks 2, 6, & 8, wrote her parts and had Elliott Frazier record her parts in Austin, TX
• Jordyn Blakely sang on tracks 3, 5, & 7, wrote and recorded her parts at Black Lodge the day after Ovlov finished the instruments
• Ted Hartlett shreds the alto sax solo on track 6
• Michael Hammond Jr. play bass on track 6
• “Buds” was engineered, mixed, and mastered by Michael John Thomas III at Black Lodge Studio in Brooklyn, NY in March 2020
• Steve’s vocals were recorded by Zack Abramo in New Haven, CT
• Layout by Chris Morgan
Buds Review by Tim Sendra • Score: ★★★★
• Following up their 2017 album TRU was never going to be an easy task for Ovlov. It was such a defining statement of heartfelt guitar noise, shot through with shards of melancholy heartbreak, that trying to top it seemed a foolhardy idea. Instead, the band decided to make something with slightly lower stakes and a higher pop quotient.
• To that end, for 2021’s Buds Steve Hartlett dug through old demos to find songs that were deemed too light at the time, plus he wrote a few that fit the brief. The result is a little lighter than TRU, but it’s hardly featherweight. There are plenty of blown~out guitars and ripping leads, the rhythm section still pounds like they are trying to escape a locked room, and Harlett ladles lots of goopy melancholy into the melodies.
• Buds totally sounds and feels like Ovlov; the difference here is that they add a couple spoonfuls of sugar and a little more jangle than usual. There are loads of backing vocals, too, with singers like Jordyn Blakely of Stove and Smile Machine, Alex Gehring of Ringo Deathstarr, and Erin McGrath providing sweetness to go along with Harlett’s understated slackness. As did most of TRU, tracks like “Baby Shea” and “Land of Steve~O” feel like they could be alt~rock radio hits of the ’90s, all soft verse-loud chorus dynamics with huge hooks and brightly lit guitars. Other songs break a bit of new ground: “Strokes” is a nice piece of insurgent jangle pop with a chorus made up of gnarly distortion and a happily unhinged solo, “Feel the Pain” is a quietly strummed, sad song, and “The Wishing Well” barely even gets loud. It’s a small stretch that proves the band can dial down the noise and still make a big impact. The rest of the album is vintage Ovlov, only with a lighter touch and slightly more subtle amp punishment. “Eat More” is a perfect example of how they blend the devastatingly heavy guitar sound of TRU with the soft approach of Buds. It’s one of the album’s highlights, and it’s hard not to be transported when the guitars finally lose touch with earth at the song’s climax. “Cheer Up, Chirio!” also leans into the heaviness, deftly balancing the grinding guitars with a very melodic verse and lovely background vocals.
• Buds rushes by fast — eight songs in 25 minutes — but that works in its favor. It makes it easier to spin the record again and again, soaking in the riffs, hooks, and Harlett’s breathtaking songs. TRU may have announced to the indie rock world at large that Ovlov had arrived; Buds lets everyone know they are here to stay.