The Buck Pets

By A. R. Carroll

From Nite Moves Music Magazine, Vol. 6 Issue 73 (April 1991), p. 5 (Rosanne Cash cover)
© 1991 Nite Moves Publications Ltd., Vancouver, B.C.

Accompanying graphic based on Mercurotones cover art.

     While listening to the lead-off song from Mercurotones, the Buck Pets' latest, I knew instantly that this band was my cup of tea. Thunderous guitars, nifty tempo changes, ragamuffin vocals, libido-drenched lyrics, and a cool bass solo. Hot damn. Produced by Michael Beinhorn (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Material), Mercurotones is surprisingly mature and far reaching considering it's only the Pets' second release. "Michael was very cool to work with," states Ian Beach, the group's bassist. "He's young and very open to a lot of different ideas. He also was a great help to me as a musician because of his attitude. He's my mentor now."

     The Buck Pets' latest single, "Libertine", was produced by the Dust Brothers (Young M.C., Tone Loc) and is a funked-up slab of guitars, horns, and a monster bass riff. "It was a lot of fun working with the Dust Brothers," laughs the good-humored Beach. "They are big time pot smokers and playboys, so it was cool. We really wanted to work with them because of the amazing job they did on the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique. That record was years ahead of its time."

     Formed in Dallas, Texas during the late 80's, the Buck Pets basically missed out on the Deep Ellum scene that spawned Edie Brickell and New Bohemians because they were constantly on the road. The road work paid off when they were signed to Island Records. The first album drew heavy critical praise and made in-roads to the college/alternative scene. The band's loose-limbed live shows and reputation for excess brought about quick comparisons to the Replacements. "The Replacements comparison kind of bothered us at first because it was a bit of a hindrance. We don't really care who the press compares us to now because they like to pigeonhole everyone. Once people listen to our music and come to see us live they'll realize that the truth is in the music. The fact that we get compared to the Replacements is great because they're cool and we are big fans."

     The Buck Pets use little flairs and subtle touches to enhance much of Mercurotones and give the tunes distinctive personalities. Haunting cello sets the mood for "Ready to Break (I'm So Tired)", while an ancient Moog synth is used on "Brother" to wrap the song in a roommate snoring on the couch while you're trying to watch a movie effect. "Hey Sunshine" sounds like the Jesus and Mary Chain meets Poison with straight-up acoustic strumming matched with last-spliff-of-the-night vocals. Tasty stuff.

     In closing, Beach comes clean about the band's monicker. "We have two stories. One is we got the name from an apple crate as we drove by, but that's a lie. What actually happened is the guys were playing a bar in Texas before I joined and this drunken middle-aged woman kept saying she liked the young bucks in the band. She wanted to go home with a buck. They were the Pets before but they soon changed to the Buck Pets."

-- A. R. Carroll

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