Album Review: Buffalo Tom – Quiet and Peace

“For this record, I wanted to show Chris and Tom Dave’s Woolly Mammoth Studios in Waltham, MA,” says Janovitz. “Dave is a local legend – founding the beloved Neighborhoods when he was a teenager and going on to play in the Replacements and Paul Westerberg’s solo band – he is a tremendously kind and gifted guy.” Janovitz continues, “Woolly reminds me so much of what I loved about really relaxed, vibey studios like the early iterations of Fort Apache in Boston, and places like Dreamland Studio up in Woodstock. Those rooms were responsible for three of our first four records, as well as dozens of other projects. You rarely felt like you were in a pro recording studio watching the clock. And Woolly Mammoth, like the Fort, is filled with an enviable, much-Instagrammed collection of vintage guitars, amps, and other gear.

There’s a lot more use of instrumentation unfamiliar with Buffalo Tom on this record. Synth lines, a plethora of female backing vocals (bordering on gospel at times) and some new guitar tones I haven’t heard them do before.

“We definitely tried some different things on this album,” says Janovitz. “But at the same time, I think that these are some of the most Buffalo Tom songs I’ve ever written. They’re little snapshots, and glimpses of people in my life, that hopefully have a universal appeal. I think our songs are a little more grounded and less opaque now than they used to be. The big difference is in the lyrical content. I would never have even sung from another character’s perspective when I was in my 20s. But I do it a lot now.”

Quiet and Peace is a truly wonderful record. One of those ‘soundtrack to my life’ records. Opener ‘All Be Gone’ walks a line between Springsteen and the softer moments of Pearl Jam. It’s still familiar to the fan base, with it’s tinges of country and folksy roots coming through now and again, but it’s definitely fresh. Some new ground has been explored here.

“One of the more notable things on this record is how many songs Chris is singing on,” Janovitz says, adding, “We did a lot of collaborating on the music, bringing in the skeletons of the songs and hammering out the arrangements. Chris definitely brought a lot to the table this time, although he’s always been a strong voice in the band. Chris and I still primarily write separately and bring songs to each other, but it used to be a much more painful process to go through.”

For a band that’s been going for 20-30 years, it’s grand to see new material appearing with this much vigour. ‘Lonely Fast and Deep’ could easily be a pop punk anthem if the guitars were more crunchier, and ‘See High The Hemlock Grows’ with it’s sublime post rock guitar lines almost sounds like a different band at times.

This is the perfect accompaniment to a road trip, or a night spent in a bottle of wine, in fact a number of things. It’s Buffalo Tom at their finest and I’m glad it’s here.

Quiet and Peace is out now on Schoolkids Records.

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