Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Busby Marou

Biding My Time - Busby Marou (mp3)

Fifteen seconds. That’s how long it took to know I was going to enjoy Busby Marou.

But first, a back story. I recently confessed to Bob in conversation that 2012 was beginning with a serious New Music Drought, with nothing even worth getting excited about on the horizon, save for a late February release date for fun.’s “Some Nights” and an upcoming album by Sleigh Bells which might or might not be awesome.

When Bob mentioned my confession in his recent post, I realized it had been half a year since I’d attempted sifting through our Bottom of the Glass in box, now full of more than 4,000 requests for us to play or share a band’s songs or videos or remixes.

And I decided that, dammit, no better time to sift through the haystack than when good needles were in short supply, so I’ve spent the past few late evenings sifting through submissions, and what I’ve found has been exciting and energizing.

So, rather than begin my posts with some topic about which I can rant and preach and then finding music to match the mood, I’m working in reverse, and I’m using these awesome submissions to inspire my rants.

Today, it’s Busby Marou’s eponymous debut album.

“Havoc & Wolverine” was a bold but poorly-written experiment in the late 80s comic book world. They assigned a single story to two creative teams, with one team writing and drawing a plot for Wolverine and the other writing and drawing for Havoc.

The Wolverine portion, painted by Kent Williams, was earthy, messier, at times a bit grotesque. Fitting for the primal character at the center. The Havoc section was watercolored by Jon J. Muth, an airy and cleaner creation.

In my youth, and even to this day, the cleaner stuff appeals first. Muddy and earthy require more concentration, more consideration. When art is light, airy, clean, the beauty is more easily recognized. What’s true in paint holds true in music as well.

When I hear Busby Marou’s clean, double-acoustic folk-pop, I think of Jon J. Muth's watercolor art. (Kent Williams' is more of the My Bloody Valentine variety.) Busby's instrumentation is easily accessible and breezy. The vocals and the harmonies are light and smooth like blonde coffee.

The duo throw in enough flourishes -- a steel guitar here (“Underlying Message”), a harmonica and banjo there (“Banjo”) -- to avoid the Folk Monotony that sometimes brings down first-time attempts (see: The Civil Wars’ debut, which while amazing does tend to blend a bit too much once you get past their three most sublime songs).

Their debut also dodges another common problem: second-half fade. In fact, save for the experiment-that-does-nothing-for-me “Not Fire Not Ice,” there’s nary a song in the latter half that fails to hold the attention.

I can’t claim they’re carving out unexplored territory, and I doubt their sound could convert those who prefer the lands of Death Metal or Hip-Hop, but if some simple acoustic guitars and two overlapping voices pull on your musical heartstrings, then their debut is worth some of your time.

Nothing bombastic, or melodramatic. No gradual ramping-up of sonic power. Just smooth baby smooth, and fine baby fine.

Tasty Samples:
Dancing On The Moon
Underlying Message


Sara C said...

Jon J. Muth is my favorite. These guys aren't too shabby, either.

Anonymous said...

Man oh man! Finnaly I found someone talking about Wolverine & Havoc ( that till now I didn't knew the exact name).

For me this was the most incredible depiction of wolverine, for me the best.

The hair, stature, the arms and the outfit AND the way it was done.

Thank you so much for it, now I'll be able to search exactly for it.

I wish a good death!