Dallas quartet vaults from the majors to indie with appreciable increase in focus and serious return to its punk-skewed roots. Title cut, "Shave," and "Nothing's Ever Gonna Be Alright Again" offer a sense of the band's dead-on style, which minces up prepunk and classic punk styles for a ballsy brew that could light up modern rockers.
Eclectic, moving, and unwilling to rest on their laurels, Texas' own Buck Pets return for their third album, a surprising mix of old and new ideas. They've got a new drummer, and I do mean new: Ricky Pearson used to play guitar in Rooster, but he switched over to the skins for his new assignment. He plays like a tight, well-oiled machine on "Shave" and the Who cover "Bargain."
Another surprise comes in the album's opener, "Living Is The Biggest Thing," where a psychedelic, drifting solo blends in with edgy, gutsy chords. The Buck Pets are definitely strongest when they take time to make the set up, and, just when you're feeling docile and sleepy, they smack you in the face, with a hardcore fuzz ' chord, as in "The Smiler with a Knife." "Car Chase" is, by contrast, a brief, brutal three-chord slice of mayhem. There are involved tracks and painfully simple ones as well.
Okay, here's the tough bottom line on the Buck Pets: They're good, they write interesting songs, but what are they adding to the scene that hasn't already been done by a dozen other struggling bands? Maybe they need to dig a little deeper to carve out an identity. Maybe I'm just a fusspot and they're great the way they are. You decide -- it's your money.