Album Review

Buck Young – “Buck II: Where Do You Want It?” – [No Rent Records]

lexi glass   9/30/2020   A Library, CD

Here’s a record I never knew I needed to hear – a weird, whiskey-soaked mash of honky tonk, steel guitar twang, tape loops, harsh noise, campfire folk, and Conlon Nancarrow reanimating the out-of-tune piano in a saloon. Buck Young is the duo of Zoe Burke and Jason Crumer (his solo noise work as well as releases from his label No Rent Records can be found in our library). On their second album, the follow-up to their 2017’s Proud Trash Sound, they’re joined by an extended cast of characters that includes Joseph Hammer (tape music legend and member of the LA Free Music Society), Wyatt Howland (Skin Graft), and Rose Rae (Apologist), to create this experimental country masterpiece, that could play just as well Down on the Farm as it could on KFJC’s most extreme shows. 

Throughout the album, repeating loops of sampled guitar recall the disorienting effect of driving for hours across a flat, seemingly endless desert landscape, as heat shimmers on the horizon and giant scorpions crawl across the cracked soil. But the pit stops along the way are really where Buck II shines. Burke’s winning vocals feature on my two favorite tracks: the catchy “Ballad of Bruce McClain,” about the misadventures of a trio of train hoppers (T7), and the dreamy, despairing “Bell Jar of Whiskey” (T12). “Long Distance Phone Call” is a sloshed singalong about drunk texts to your ex and other regrets (T9), and the title track is a spoken word narration of a barroom showdown between a shit-talking guy from the local plant and a John Wayne-wannabe musician (T14). For weeks, I’ve been whistling along with this record as the country burns down around us – here’s hoping my fellow listeners also find it eases their misery.

FCCs on T7, T14

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