Buxton — Half a Native
Γ Some places you feel like you only sort of fit in and it is this theme that permeates Houston based folk rock band Buxton’s new aptly titled album Half A Native. One of the leading lights of an emerging music scene from a city with a burgeoning youth culture, Buxton have won 2 Houston Press Music awards as best Houston Folk/Americana band as well as Best Male Vocals (Sergio Trevino). Their new album ventures into vast sonic territories, sometimes pairing atmospheric piano with off–kilter electric guitar, blanketed by Trevino’s heart–clenched voice and melancholic but optimist lyrics.
Location: Houston, TX ~ LA, CA
Album release: March 3, 2015
Record Label: New West Records
01 What I'd Do 4:03
02 Good As Gone 4:29
03 Old Haunt 3:42
04 Half a Native 3:33
05 High Tones 4:06
06 Miss Catalina 1992 4:19
07 A Little Bit More 2:48
08 Be Somebody Else 3:43
09 The Heart Won't Bend 3:31
10 Icebreaker 4:39
11 Pool Hall 3:06
℗ 2015 New West Records, LLC
Γ Lindsey Cooper Photography
Γ Nicolas Essig Assistant
Γ JJ Golden Mastering
Γ Adam MacDougall Piano
Γ Thom Monahan Engineer, Mixing, Producer
Γ Peter Movoa Assistant
Γ Jordan Noel Design, Layout
Γ Austin Sepulvado Group Member
Γ Justin Terrell Group Member
Γ Sergio Trevino Group Member
Γ Jason Willis Group Member
Γ Chris Wise Group Member
Review by Timothy Monger; Score: ****
Γ Houston five–piece Buxton deepen their sojourn into experimental pop pastures on their expansive fourth LP, Half a Native. The group's journey began a decade prior when principal songwriter Sergio Trevino teamed up with multi–instrumentalist Jason Willis and bassist Chris Wise to record their folk–inspired debut, Red Follows Red, in 2005. With each subsequent release, Buxton expanded both musically and in terms of personnel, adding drummer Justin Terrell in 2009 and guitar/keyboard player Austin Sepulvado a year later. By the time they signed to esteemed indie New West Records to release 2012's Nothing Here Seems Strange, they had evolved from a fairly straightforward roots act into more adventurous indie pop purveyors with banjos who still bore some residual Texas twang. While their New West debut was a somewhat wiley affair that pitted Trevino's thoughtful songwriting against mildly chaotic noise bursts and sonic chatter, Half a Native is a far more understated set that leaves some welcome space between the gaps. Working with an outside producer for the first time, Buxton left their home state to record in Los Angeles with Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Vetiver). Whether it's Monahan's influence, the change in location, or a bit of both, Half a Native has a gently melancholic, sun–warmed haze that filters throughout the album, helping it to hang together better than anything the band has released up to this point. The spacy, swirling guitars from their previous release are still present, but they now bounce neatly in a controlled environment softly coloring standouts like "What I'd Do," "Pool Hall," and the lovely title track. There's a weary romance to these songs that seem to want to escape down a ribbon of desert highway, and while this is a sound Buxton have sought before, it seems fully realized here on what may be their strongest effort to date. http://www.allmusic.com/
Γ Buxton's forthcoming album, Half A Native, signals a departure from the rustic sound they have become known for and adds elements of indie rock, psychedelia, honky–tonk, ambience and distortion, resulting in their most realized album to date. Γ Having enjoyed great success regionally in their hometown of Houston and throughout the South, the five–piece band decided to shake things up for this album and headed to Los Angeles to work with producer Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Vetiver, Beachwood Sparks). From the dusty tones of guitar–slinging anthems to lonesome acoustic affairs that look outward and within, Half A Native is music for the search for home; the long journey to find somewhere, something, or someone that makes everything fall into place. Across 11 eclectic tracks Buxton ventures into vast sonic territories blanketed by singer–songwriter Sergio Trevino’s heart–clenched voice and melancholic, but optimistic lyrics. “We take from a lot of different genres and present it in a way that I think is most honest for us,” Trevino says.
BY MILES RAYMER
Γ Buxton's 'Half a Native' delivers spacey country vibes — exclusive
Γ For its third album, the band Buxton relocated from their native Houston to L.A. to work with producer Thom Monahan, who’s manned the boards for recordings by Devendra Banhart, Vetiver, and Beachwood Sparks that bridge the span between ’60s folk pop and modern indie rock, and together they crafted an album, Half a Native, that deserves to be filed right next to them, thanks to its blend of sugar–sweet hooks and honky tonk twang.
Γ Half a Native is a departure from the rustic sound that earned the band a devout following in the explosive Houston scene and beyond. While their acclaimed 2012 album Nothing Here Seems Strange leaned toward folk, Half a Native ventures into vast sonic territories, sometimes pairing atmospheric piano with off–kilter electric guitar, blanketed by Trevino’s heart–clenched voice and melancholic, but optimistic lyrics. “We take from a lot of different genres and present it in a way that I think is most honest for us,” Trevino says. “You’ll hear rock, folk, country, ambience, and distortion, all interpreted through us.”
Γ Monahan’s work shines throughout, from the darkly cinematic “Old Haunt,” in which, as Trevino explains, Monahan “stripped it down to the root of the song, with a nice little twang sludge vibe that goes along with the tone of the bleak lyrics. It reminds me of a chain gang of ghosts,” to the title track, “Half A Native,” which elides acoustic strums from Trevino’s $30 thrift store guitar with the distant textures of Jason Willis’ lanky slide guitar. The seemingly disparate sounds and textures could be jarring, but Buxton seamlessly weaves them together in a unified sound and feeling.
Γ Perhaps benefiting from this new dynamic the most is the album’s centerpiece, “Miss Catalina 1992,” a driving, punky burst of indie rock self–described as the most “rock” song the band has ever written. Originally beginning life as a stripped down acoustic tale, it was spontaneously revved up following the band’s excitement after learning they were heading to LA to record with Monahan. “It’s by far my favorite song to play, it gets so wild and jittery with energy, like a game of raging musical chairs,” Trevino says.
Γ “Icebreaker” meanwhile hints at the band’s Texas roots and marries some deft piano playing from Adam MacDougal of Chris Robinson Brotherhood with psychedelia–laced honky–tonk and twang, adding up to what Trevino describes as a “sort of Gram Parsons on speed sound.” “Pool Hall,” a song about that universal all–consuming feeling of being compelled to talk to an attractive stranger after locking eyes across the room, closes out the album on a stately, beautiful note.
Artist Biography by Mark Deming
Γ Playing a lively, intelligent fusion of folk and rock, Buxton were formed in La Porte, Texas, a town on the Gulf of Mexico roughly 25 miles east of Houston. Guitarist, singer, and principal songwriter Sergio Trevino formed the band in 2003; through his younger sister, he had met a pair of fellow musicians, multi–instrumentalist Jason Willis (who plays guitar, mandolin, pedal steel, and banjo) and bassist Chris Wise. The three musicians began jamming together, and before long Buxton were playing local gigs in La Porte. In 2006, the trio recorded and self–released its debut album, Red Follows Red. The album fared well enough to recover the cost of production, and the band pulled up stakes, relocating to the brighter lights of Houston. By 2009, Buxton had expanded to a quartet with the addition of drummer Justin Terrell, and the band released its second album, the more thematically ambitious A Family Light. The album received enthusiastic reviews in the Texas music press, and Buxton began touring throughout the state and around the Southwest and West Coast. In early 2010, the group began filling out its sound with the addition of guitarist and keyboard player Austin Sepulvado, and by the end of the year, Buxton became a six–piece when Trevino invited a fan of the group, Haley Barnes, to join as a keyboard player and harmony vocalist. In 2011, Buxton attracted the attention of the celebrated independent roots music label New West Records, and the band and the company struck a deal, with New West releasing Buxton's third album, Nothing Here Seems Strange, in January 2012.
by WOODY on MARCH 3, 2015
Γ Band get a following in the local area. Band gets signed to a label. Band puts out solid album. Band leaves local area, works with new challenging producer and expands sound without abandoning what got them there. Its a story as familiar as tying your shoes. And yet, it is one I’ve yet to tire of. Add to that list; Houston’s Buxton.
Γ Back in 2012, Buxton put out the excellent Nothing Here Seems Strange via New West Records. My pal, Jefe and I caught them both at SXSW and up here in Chicago at Schubas. Both times we caught a scintillating set that left us wanting more. It also left them wanting more as they headed west to work with Thom Monahan. Lead singer Sergio Trevino had this to say “We take from a lot of different genres and present it in a way that I think is most honest for us,” Trevino says. “You’ll hear rock, folk, country, ambience, and distortion, all interpreted through us.”
Γ What I’d Do sets the mood right away. The song has a Cosmic Americana feel to it, barely moving faster than a crawl. The band really gives Trevino’s lyrics room to breathe. The keys are particularly pleasing throughout the track and you can’t help but be reminded of MMJ.
Γ Miss Catalina 1992 is what Buxton terms the most “rock” song they’ve ever written. It took on new life after learning they would be heading to LA to record. Lead guitarist, Jason Willis, has a ripping solo in the middle of the track. This track is the perfect example of a band augmenting their sound without losing sight of who they were. It slides in nicely as the centerpiece of Half A Native. Pool Hall closes out the album with a twangy waltz about a chance encounter in a pool hall. Its a beautiful tune builds slowly, builds tension and then fades away oh so gently.
Γ I referenced MMJ earlier in the review and I think it is fitting that Buxton released Half A Native on the same day that MMJ announced The Waterfall. I can’t help but think that if you enjoy the music of MMJ, you would love Buxton. I certainly do. Jefe certainly does. And we’re both pretty cool; all things considered. :: http://www.hearya.com/
Jim Hynes | April 17th, 2015 | Score: 84 | http://www.elmoremagazine.com/2015/04/reviews/albums/buxton-half-a-native