Each time I drop the needle on Buffalo Killers' Ohio Grass I eventually fall into a strange waking dream. I imagine three kinda burly guys wandering into an Ohio recording studio armed with knockout songs, just enough rehearsal and telling the engineer to "roll tape so we can rock this thing."
Guitar, Bass and Drums at the ready.
Amps to 11.
Mics are placed just right.
Incense is lit.
I have no idea why this strange dream returns and returns and returns but I can tell you they absolutely do rock this thing. If people would take the time to shut off American Idol, The Voice and The I-Used-To-Be-Cinderella-At-Disneyland TV vocal contests and seek out Buffalo Killers they'd be won over big time. Okay, maybe not. They're a bit unruly and not pre-packaged enough for that crowd. But the rest of you, with the wave of a hand I can say, "This is the rock you've been looking for."
Ohio Grass is a six cut Record Store Day release that carries on where their last record (Dig. Sow. Love. Grow.) left off, which means it is pretty damn righteous.
It fires right up with "Baptized," heavy white boy mojo that blends with thunder and a stuttering drum beat. "Somebody better start praying for me..." This music is performed, mixed and mastered perfectly and you can't help but become entranced by the sound of finely tuned drums and perfectly balanced bass, guitar and voice. No matter how loud you turn it up it still sounds incredible! And when the solos come, well EVERYTHING breaks loose and you instantly understand there wasn't nearly enough praying going on. Hell is in the offing. There is no redemption forthcoming. Just brimstone. And a lot of sweet sweet smoke.
And then "Nothing Can Bring Me Down." Holy crap, how many Joe Walsh's can Ohio produce. This is pure rock splendor that hearkens back to the day... a sunny day with my window open to let the clouds out while the James Gang's "Walk Away" spins on my turntable. NCBMD is actually more like Joe Walsh fronting the Nazz with a little more bottom end and is, in actuality, a glorious power pop song disguised as new psychedelia or sticky stoner rock. But then again, there's a reason this record was pressed on herb green vinyl, with fine leaves on the A Side label and is named Ohio Grass.
"Grow Your Own." Rocking. Organic. Disruptive. This is not "fire up a joint and eat Oreos while listening to the longest version of "Dark Star" ever recorded" music. No, no, no. This is "a room full of laughs and smiles and the stereo is loud and people are having a good time" music. No, no, no... a GREAT TIME!
This is an album that gets people at a party talking louder because no one would dare turn it down, no one would dare mute this rager of a gathering. And that's three amazing cuts, back to back to back, time to flip the record over.
How can you have an album called Ohio Grass without a touch of Reggae music, man? "Golden Eagle" may be a slightly mutated version but it burns even and is excitingly incendiary. The bass is pushed up a little louder, the snare pings, the kick drum is wobbly wet, and the Buffalo Killers are rocking. It's just that the beat is on the three. Love it.
The studio dream and the party dream have become one and the room is packed. I'm in the corner laughing, grooving to the music and I don't know how long I've been here... no one does. But that's how you know you're enjoying music, you get carried away. The only time extant is that which passes in the song. This is THE experience and I'm loving the groove... the atmosphere...
And just like that they bend in a curve, "Hold You Me." Rock, harkening back to the garage rock of The Shams but with a little more of the Kentucky side of the river in the vocals. Vocals that shift and melodies that grab hold and won't let go. I'm no longer dreaming.
Ohio Grass closes out with "Some Other Kind," which begins as a kind of a twisted spy movie theme in waltz time and transforms into a lovely rock gem that serves as a fitting closer to this six song wonder of an album. (An EP... I just can't bear to call it that. As though it is somehow lesser.) "Some Other Kind" is not quite schizophrenic but as it moves through its changes I'm forced to focus in a way I wasn't expecting or called upon to do during the first five tracks. "Soon I will find, where I look all the time, to find out the wrong way to love you." A non-sequitur relationship song? Now I'm grinning and baffled. And still happy.
And when the needle lifts from Side 2 I'm definitely dazed and confused. It, and they, are too great not to be filling halls and ruling the world with music like this, and then I think back to when I saw them open for The Black Crowes. People were kind of listening but maybe a little too high for their own good. "For their own good" because they should have been totally into this band. And I hope people were listening to their last record Dig. Sow. Love. Grow. because it was just as remarkable.
If you can grab hold of a copy of Ohio Grass then, by all means, do it. It is rock music in all its simple glory. It is rock music that is necessary. It is rock that cuts through the haze of bad pseudo-music phalunking out of your radio, TV, earbuds or computer speakers. It is rock music the way you want it. It is the stuff that dreams are made of.
Kevin Poore is a writer, director and musician permanently rooted in Southern California. He hosts the long running music show "Nights At The Sound Table," is currently filming a documentary "Long Playing" and has actually been in the presence of, and reached out and touched, Jimi Hendrix's personal record collection. He was high for days. You can write him at email@example.com.