Artist of the Week: The White Buffalo

Written by  Published in Featured Artist Tuesday, 10 January 2012 17:32
TWB-Hat-Lowres

Centuries ago Native Americans told stories of the mysterious and elusive white buffalo. It was said to be sacred and on the rare occasion (1 in 10 million buffalo or bison are white) one was seen it was thought to be a sign from the gods. It was deemed untouchable and thought to be an ancestor come back to guide the tribe to its proper place in the favor of said gods. Today the white buffalo is thought to be merely an albino, a rare albatross in a sea of brown bison. That’s where Jake Smith comes in.

Jake Smith is a rising alt-country singer better known by his nom de plume The White Buffalo. It’s a fitting name, really, because of what he represents is a return to the traditional country roots that modern country has strayed from. He represents a chance to return to the glory days of yore when Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson ruled the roost. The baritone in his voice is like listening to a bass test on a stereo as it reverberates through every muscle in your body and rattles your senses.

What country music doesn’t get is that this is the past and future of the genre. The White Buffalo is what real music aficionados have been clamoring for. The en vogue pop-country aspects of what’s coming out of Nashville are as true to country as Nickelback is to rock, just ask the Black Keys. There is no wink wink, nod nod to the Christian right in his music or sanctimonious bullshit about how Amurica (spelled like it’s pronounced) is the greatest country and if you don’t like it you can go to hell.

TWB-Suit-Lowres

Smith is real and authentic. The California native is cut more from the Bakersfield, Gram Parsons, Buck Owens-type of country than the Hank Williams style that emanates out of Appalachia or Nashville. He’s as rare as the real white buffalo and perhaps he too can lead us out of the doldrums of poor pop country shit into a day where artists that speak candidly and intelligently about their thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams. He recently released out The Lost and Found EP of five songs in December as a preview of what’s to come on his 13-song Once Upon A Time In The West that will be released on February 28.

There will be some overlap of a couple songs, but they are so good that it doesn’t feel forced. If you’re a fan of the FX program Sons of Anarchy, there’s a good chance you’ve heard White Buffalo’s cover of “House of the Rising Sun.” You’ll also be surprised to learn that while country or alt-country is the backbone of his style there’s a folksiness even zydeco element at times. All of it works because that raw, scratchy salt of the earth element in his voice doesn’t belittle the emotion that comes from songs like “Wish it was True.”

He sings lyrics that speak to the very core of who we are as human beings, as people who struggle to get out the right words to say how we truly feel:

Country, I was a soldier to you.
I did what you asked me to.
It was wrong, and you knew.
Country, now I'm just a stranger to you.
A number, a name; it's true.
Throw me away when you're through.
Home of the brave and the free; the red, white, and blue.
I wish it was true.

white_buff

You see the name is more than just clever marketing. It is more than just merely a moniker to satisfy record execs who don’t want to throw an artist named Jake Smith to the proverbial wolves. This is the start of a musical revolution where we as listening public are able to discern the shit that courses through the veins of the unintelligible masses from the beauty that such perfect lyrics can lift us up and rise like the white buffalo of Native American lore.

 

Last modified on Friday, 05 October 2012 13:18
Matt De Mello

When I was a kid I remember listening to Bob Dylan's lyrics and thinking I want to write like that someday. I followed the musical evolutionary steps from '80's pop, to 90's grunge and gangster rap, I found myself in a quandary in the late '90's and turned to classic rock and alt-country. That was my finding Buddha moment. I discovered greatness in the crackling vinyl sounds of Exile on Main Street, Grievous Angel and Nebraska. I found myself inspired by Nirvana, Pavement and REM. It was this inspiration that led me to write about music. It's the only thing I've ever felt truly comfortable doing. I love music, all music from Miles and Coltrane to Bruce and Dylan. From Nirvana and Pearl Jam to Beethoven and Brahms. From Jimi and Janis to Dre and Pac. I go to shows in San Francisco quite often and love discovering new music. If you have a hot tip on a band or like what I'm saying email me at Matt@BestNewBands.com or follow me @MattKDeMello

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Twitter Feed

 

New On BestNewBands.com

No Family Is Safe When I Sashay – Perfume Genius

22 July 2014

New York - Perfume Genius is the moniker of Seattle’s own singer-songwriter Mike Hadreas. Since his debut, this soloist’s tracks have crashed through playlists with unforgiving, tidal might. But Had...

Alvvays’ New Album Is A Dazed Dream

21 July 2014

Los Angeles - What a debut! Alvvays’ self-titled record is a 9-track, lo-fi haze that is perfect for a joyride down the coastline. The strong and sentimental indie-pop has fanciful guitar breakdowns...

7 New Bands At Pitchfork – Day Three

21 July 2014

Chicago – The final day of a weekend festival is always bittersweet. Even though you are exhausted, you dance and sing as if there’s no tomorrow, fighting off the inevitable: the wave of melancholy ...

The Black Angels Debut New Video, Release 'Clear Lake Forest'

21 July 2014

New York - The Black Angels are excited to announce that their new offering Clear Lake Forest is out now via Blue Horizon. Clear Lake Forest saw a limited vinyl release on Record Store Day, but the ...