Buffalo Clover – Test Your Love

buffaloEmerging out of the Nashville scene, Buffalo Clover are a band criminally underrated in Britain, mainly because of their country roots and the UK’s infamous rejection of the genre. Despite this they made an impression on DrunkenWerewolf back in 2010 with their debut album Low Down Time. Ballsy and in your face yet subtle and composed, it’s a record bred and brewed in the salt of their hometown but nevertheless accessible to an ear better acquainted with Americana and folk.

Test Your Love, the band’s sophomore album, takes things one step further, introducing oodles of rhythm and blues to the table. It is however clearly the same band at play. The hollering vocal of front woman Margo Price litters every song, pulling all the right strings and generally lifting the listener from where they perch. On songs like opener “The Ruse”, “Truthfulness” and “Let it Go”, Price demonstrates the full range of her soprano lungs with an almighty burst of swagger. Add a bar twinkling piano, brass and thigh slapping guitar, and you’ve got yourself a hoedown that will tantalise even the stiffest English upper lip.

Buffalo Clover are clearly a band who know how to have fun and it’s the brighter moments of Test Your Love that shine. On paper their influences range from Bob Dylan to Janis Joplin. On record and in practice The Band and Dolly Parton sneak in as well. The results are bold and authentic, with 70s rock’n’roll songs “Come into my House” and “Guilt” sounding as though they were recorded in situ. Slower numbers like “Temporary Satisfaction” and “Hey Child” come with an additional Southern soul slur that’s again neither dated or clichéd.

With Low Down Time Buffalo Clover proved themselves a good time. Test Your Love continues the theme, but also instils a real sense of genius and faith in their music. The six piece are one of few to sound genuinely timeless and on the British scene at least, that should stand them in good stead.

Release: 19th August 2013, Angry Badger Records

Interview: Buffalo Clover (DW is 5! Special)

This interview was originally published in Issue #10, DW is 5! Special, December 2009.

In Issue #8 DrunkenWerewolf interviewed Nashville, Tennessee singer-songwriter Caitlin Rose, and for the first time we became fully aware of the talent the city has to offer. Here Tiffany Daniels talks to Margo Price, frontwoman of the gloriously sultry Nashville band Buffalo Clover, about their varying influences, life in the USA and their UK aspirations.

First off, for the sake of everyone this side of the Atlantic, can you introduce yourselves?

Margo: Well, there are two founding members, Jeremy Ivey (who is also my husband) and myself. We met about five years ago but didn't start playing together until 2007. Last year, we met Matt Gardner here in Nashville, and he had a similar style to us. Jeremy and Matt switch between bass and electric guitar. Matt is also the one playing banjo in “Midnight Circus”. I sing, play guitar and also sometimes drums.

Buffalo Clover is an unusual name. What made you chose the name of a plant as an act?

M: It was a plant I had grown up around in Illinois. I had always heard my Grandmother say, "look at all that buffalo clover". I asked her why it was called that and she told me it was a plant that appears after the hooves of a stampede trample the ground. My father and his parents lived on a farm outside of a town called Buffalo Prairie, until it was repossessed in the early eighties, during a bad drought. Buffalo to me have always been a strong symbol of the American plains.

You’ve described yourself as Nashville’s “most eclectic band”; do you think Nashville needs to develop in order to steer away from its country stereotype? Or does the media need to appreciate the diversity that already exists within the city?

M: Nashville has developed past the stereotypes in a way, but real country music is only underground here. What Nashville puts on the radio is not country music. Real country music is about hard times, love stories and old tales that stemmed from rudimentary folk, blues and Appellation music. As far as other forms of media go, there are only two papers that cover or review music, art and film. Unfortunately, corporate publishers bought both of them out a year ago. They seem to put more attention on nationally known acts rather than local talent.

Although hints of country run throughout your music, you also incorporate gypsy, folk, blues and bluegrass roots. Did you set out to embrace such a ramshackle variety, or did the sound naturally develop? 

M: I suppose it developed along with our interests; say there’s someone out there you meet, and they interoperate music and chord changes completely differently than you do… left handed and upside down maybe. We see that and translate it into something new. You can take a little bit each time you hear good music, but you have to be open to receive it. Because of Matt's banjo style, he has brought touches of bluegrass and gypsy to the band.

In Issue #8 I asked Caitlin Rose what attracts her to country music and she responded, “country music is the endless search for the perfect song…the simplest, well-written song sung earnestly with feeling stands alone”. Do you agree? What attracts you to the scene? What doesn’t?

M: I have to agree; simple, well-written songs are the ones that really last. I do however think that there are a lot of people that seem to settle for simple and hope that singing with feeling will make the song have meaning. I think that Caitlin does a good job of interpreting country music.

The thing that attracts us to the scene is that there are tons of talented musicians to play with, lots of used record shops and great studios to record at. The Bomb Shelter is where we record (along with Caitlin and lots of other local folks) live on analogue tape. On the down side, it's hard playing to a room full of other musicians. Supportive or not, it's a tough crowd, but it really does make you push yourself to always improve.

Did you grown up around country music, or did you come to embrace it in your post-teen years? To me it’s quite a mature genre.

M: My folks listened to a lot of 60's rock and roll; my great uncle, Bob Fischer, was a country writer in the mid 50's and has lived in Nashville ever since. I found country music around the same time I found his '56 Gibson sitting in my Grandmother’s basement (I was about 19). I had just gotten into listening to Patsy Cline, Roger Miller, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash; they all influenced my writing in ways I can't even understand.

Jeremy was forbidden to listen to anything but classical and Christian music growing up.  He would sneak Beatles, Nirvana and Bob Dylan into the house, but his parents would then take the tapes into the driveway and smash them with a hammer in front of him. He also found country music through his Grandfather, Bill Farrish, who led a Texas swing band.

How did you come to embrace those other genres (folk/blues/bluegrass roots)? What musicians particularly caught your attention?

M: We all three are huge fans of early roots music. We all have a mutual love for Dylan, Howlin' Wolf, Karen Dalton, Townes Van Zandt, Billy Holiday, Tom Jarrel, Odetta, Skip James, Leadbelly, Blaze Foley, Mississippi John Hurt, John Lee Hooker and Screamin' Jay Hawkins.  Also, 60's rock and roll played a huge part in our development. Bands like The Kinks, Harry Nilsson, Neil Young, Janis Joplin, The Beatles, Leonard Cohen, The Stones, Jimmy Hendrix, The Doors, Credence Clearwater Revival and all those over mentioned bands that deserve to be mentioned. On the soul and Motown side of things, people like James Brown, Etta James, Wanda Jackson, Sam Cook and many more have also really influenced us.

What genre of music did your parents listen to? I was having a discussion with someone the other day about the influence parents can have on taste, and in respect of your multiplicity your opinion would be appreciated…

M: My Dad liked The Beach Boys a lot. He was always jamming music really loud in his truck on the way home from school. He doesn't like a lot of country music, especially not what's on the radio today, but he loves Johnny Cash and all that old stuff. My Mom likes everything, but she has no idea who sings what. It's pretty cute that I know more about the specifics of her era than she does!

Jeremy was never exposed to most of the albums that many of us grew up with. When he heard the White album at 18, it really blew his mind. In retrospect he is happier that it happened that way, because when he finally heard it, he didn't take it for granted.

Matt's parents listened to mostly classical music and early folk music like Burl Ives. He also got his first Leadbelly record from his father. His whole family was musical: his older sisters played piano and fiddle. They used to serenade him to sleep with guitars when he was young.

You all share vocal responsibilities, but you’ve recorded few duets. Is this something we can look forward to in the future? Have you deliberately avoided the technique?

M: There might be some on our next record. We have written several, but never recorded them.  I love groups like The Band that all sing equally.  We are still working on incorporating more harmonies and shared melodies.

Margo’s voice is particularly reminiscent of Jenny Lewis. What other contemporary acts do you take inspiration from?

M: Okay, I have to admit, I just heard Jenny Lewis for the first time yesterday. I guess we live under a rock… but the rent is cheap! I liked what I heard though, she has a great voice and she had a lot of good lyrics.  Thanks for the introduction!

As far as contemporary acts that have inspired us, the main one is an Albuquerque, New Mexico band called The Handsome Family.

Buffalo Clover released single “Midnight Circus” recently, and debut album Pearls to Swine preceded it. To date, what other records have you released? Are you intending to release anything internationally soon?

M: "Midnight Circus" was a single off the album Strong Medicine, which was released this past June. It’s for sale on iTunes, Amazon and in The Groove and at Grimey's in Nashville.

Before we released Pearls to Swine, we were called Secret Handshake and wrote mostly topical and political songs. After clearing out barrooms all over the South with our opinions set to music, we found out the name The Secret Handshake was already taken and we re-evaluated our sound and changed the name. During '07 under that name, we released two EP's: Listen and Black Flowers.

If all goes well, we will have a new LP by March to bring over seas. The working title is Stealing From Thieves.

Were you pleased with the critical reception Pearls to Swine and Strong Medicine?

M: Since we only really promoted "Midnight Circus", a lot of people haven't even heard the rest of the record, but we are receiving exceptional feedback with the song and the video. It will be shown here in Nashville next month at Kamera Sutra at The Belcourt Theater. It will also be shown on the local video TV station.

I heard you’re interested in visiting the UK for a tour. Would it be a short stop or do you want to make a thing of it? Please play Bristol! I know the city would love you.

M: We are so excited to get overseas. We plan on touring the UK for at least a month, early summer 2010. We are just starting the tedious process of booking shows. No matter what, we will do our damnedest to get to Bristol!

You extensively toured the states to promote Pearls to Swine. Did you find some states were more receptive to your music than others? There’s a real divide in taste in the UK.

M: Oh yeah, sometimes you just get put on a bill with a death metal band and you get up there with your banjos and acoustic guitars and do your best to try to entertain the room. And yes, we've won over a few drunk metal heads along the way and that's always the best part. There was a blues club outside of Los Angeles, CA in Hermosa Beach called Cafe Boogaloo; it was probably the best response we had on the trip. Austin, TX was also really cool, Wilmington, NC and Chicago, IL were among our favourite cities.

Finally, what do you personally find more important: the lyrics to a song or the instrumentation? Do your lyrics precede your music or vice versa?

M: Every song is unique when it comes to writing. Sometimes I'll have a poem and give it to Jeremy and he'll think of a melody. Sometimes, I'll have a frame and he'll put words to it. I don't know if either one is more important, but I find that we'll never keep a song if the lyrics are weak. You can't bore people with an uninteresting tune, but at the same time, if you don't have anything to say, you shouldn't say anything at all.

Introducing: Buffalo Clover

With Caitlin Rose still pounding away at our battered ear drums, Nashville has come through all shiny recently; its force certainly isn't relenting.

Describing themselves to be the city's "most eclectic band", Buffalo Clover have cemented my love and, more shockingly, made me reconsider my original stance over moving to America (never, not in a million years). If all it takes it a good kick of the dirt to uncover this kind of talent, I'd be foolish not to.

The band have a UK trip planned soon, details to be announced.

Midnight Circus from MasterMovies on Vimeo.

15 Reasons Fools Gold

Top 10 Songs about Black and Gold

Sparkles. We all love them, right?

There are few things better in life than wearing inappropriately glittery clothes, with the small but mighty exception of the colour black. Together this power couple of colours rule the roost at DW HQ, and probably will for a very long time. So when we were presented with these awesome black gold headphones from Pryma, our world was shaken to its very core. We drooled, we danced, and finally, we were inspired to compile this comprehensive yet bespoke list of songs.

You are welcome.

10// Mary Epworth - Black Doe

Launching straight into the fray with Ms Epworth's "Black Doe", a solid dirge of glorious noise if ever there was one, this track is taken from her often overlooked but still fantabulous debut solo album.

9// Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Gold Lion

Duh.

8// Du Blonde - Black Flag

Our outfits very often result in smeared red lipstick also, Beth. You're okay in our books.

7// Buffalo Clover - Fools Gold

Those lungs! Buffalo Clover's Margo Price is now a bona fide star on her own ground, and quite right, too.

6// Tilly & The Wall - Pot Kettle Black

An oldie, but great black song nonetheless: here Tilly & The Wall once again prove that stomping about in a piss is the best way to relay your feelings via the medium of song.

5// Dilly Dally - Next Gold

Screaming? Check. Gold reference? Check. Penchanting for wearing black t-shirts? Check.

4// Love Inks - Black Eye

Otherwise heard as, "YOU'VE GOT BLACK EYE ON YOUR EYE."

3// Bat for Lashes - All Your Gold

By now you've realised this slightly odd excuse for a playlist is actually jam packed with decent music, and Bat for Lashes is no exception.

2// The Rolling Stones - Paint It Black

There are only so many black songs you can reference before you get to this 60s hit. Plus, "Paint It Black" invokes dramatic flailing, and that's always a good thing in music.

1// The Horn the Hunt - Gold

When this song came out, we laughed until we cackled. This is the audible embodiment of the most flamboyant black and gold outfit out there, and it's all down to Leeds alt-pop pioneers The Horn the Hunt.

Introducing: WYATT

wyattA slow handclap and lazy guitar opens WYATT’s latest track “Trouble”. Followed by namesake Maddy Wyatt’s American drawl, at first the licked rock riff is deceiving, as the production hints at the fusion cool of Santigold and Sleigh Bells, but the song soon belts out a chorus fit for new country Kings and Queens Buffalo Clover.

Confused yet? It seem WYATT are content to cross states and genre boundaries. Their base is found smack bang in the centre of New York City, and "Trouble" was recorded in a Brooklyn studio and not on a dusty road to Nashville, but it’s still no surprise their self-titled EP found an audience at SXSW and CMJ last year, well before it rocked their hometown. With critical acclaim from Time Out New York dragging at their heels, it looks like the five-piece are set to crack their local scene this year at least.

Check out “Trouble” below.

Interview: Tristen

This interview was originally published in Issue #11, March 2010.

Tristen is a staple of the Nashville music scene, regularly playing shows alongside her contemporaries and gaining a lot of attention from the local press; she’s been dubbed ‘Best of What’s Next’ by PASTE Magazine and has recently played the NBN arena to debut her single “Matchstick Murder”. However, on this side of the Atlantic and like many artists before her, support is sorely lacking. In Tristen’s case, this is particularly perplexing considering the extent of her talents; her songs offer hints of pop, Americana and country alongside a smouldering vocal drenched in emotion, cigarette smoke and whisky slurs - utterly addictive and infinitely appealing to the ear.

Although she’s been performing and releasing material under her own name since she was a teenager, in 2009 Tristen released her first internationally available EP Dreamers Are Achievers to critical success. It can be downloaded for free from her BandCamp site: tristen.bandcamp.com. The twenty-something singer-songwriter is hoping to release an extended version of the EP, Charlatans at the Garden Gate, this summer, followed by a US tour.

DrunkenWerewolf’s Tiffany Daniels talks to the performer about her life before Nashville, sexism in the music industry, her current material and what she has planned for the future.

You’ve been making music from a young age and performing live since you were 14. What inspired you to first start penning your own songs? Does that still inspire you or have your motives changed?

It's hard to say, but I imagine because I was always singing as a child, writing songs was a natural way for me to express myself and my ideas as a teenager. I think that translates to my life now. I've grown so used to playing music and writing songs as a hobby, as something I can do fairly easily and enjoy doing more than anything else. I do try to make meaningful work and express my ideas to people through my songs. I'm sure that I am motivated by knowing that ultimately someone else will be listening to this song or I will be performing it for an audience. I'm sure that plays a part in the process.

What was the first song you ever wrote? Do you still play it?

I wrote my first song in 3rd grade and I still remember it because I was eight years old and the song is about a betrayed lover and it has a verse and a chorus. I don't play it but occasionally I'll think about it and it makes me laugh at what a dramatic child I was.

You’ve been performing and moving around the United States for several years; do you think your style has developed because of your relocations, or do you think you relocated because your style was progressing?

My style is always changing for many reasons. I'm always getting older, meeting new people, and seeing new places. Every person is a product of their experiences and influenced by their environment so I'm sure that living in Nashville has affected me artistically. But I still feel like I am chasing inspiration and fighting the bore war at all times. Moving around and having new experiences gives you a freedom to be who you want to be; there is no attachment to what you once were. I am usually ready to shed the things that make me complacent and comfortable in order to learn new things.

Do you still have ties to Los Angeles and Chicago [both cities Tristen has worked in]?

My family lives in Chicago and I still love that city.

A few of our writers and several of our readers are putting together a one off zine called VETO; it focuses on women in the music industry. What are your experiences of and thoughts regarding sexism in your profession?

[We’re] at the point now where [sexism] is uneducated and it’s unacceptable for men to admit they are sexist, but any person who understands the history of the subordination of women in the world knows that women aren't treated equally usually. There is a long history of programming that has to be reset. A lot of men still like beautiful, passive women who they can control and keep at home. A lot of women like being beautiful and passive and staying at home.

I think it's weak and lazy when women use sex instead of ideas to get ahead. I think it's shallow to get off on the attention men give you because they want to fuck you.

If you are a girl making music, you are constantly proving your proficiency. Men, usually the ones who are most unqualified, want to give you advice on how to further your career. A woman is a bitch if she’s outspoken. A strong woman is a novelty, a tart, or a new breed of female songwriter. But with all of this I am still privileged and completely capable so I can't complain about any hardship. I won't forsake my femininity. I'll still wear a dress, feel elegant in high heels, and put on make up. I still love flowers and decorating my house!

What great women of the past inspire you to write and perform?

Dolly Parton, Wanda Jackson, Loretta Lynn, Vashti Bunyan are some of my favorites.

Are you intending to stay in Nashville for the foreseeable future?

I won't be in Nashville forever but I'll definitely be here awhile. I'd love to get out of the United States at some point.

There’s been an upsurge of new music coming out of Nashville recently. What do you think has enticed musicians to join the city’s population? What made you move there?

Nashville has the best musicians. It's incredible. People come here from all over to be among the best and in that environment people are challenged to get better to survive. Nashville has no other prominent industry in town. It's all music, so it's rare to meet non-musicians. It's in the water here. This placed is steeped in its reputation and musical history. It's a great place to make records. The cost of living is low so it's much easier to be an artist. Musicians here appreciate the song and so it seemed natural for someone like me to bring my songs to Nashville.

We’ve interviewed Caitlin Rose and Buffalo Clover before now; what Nashville act should we interview next?

Cortney Tidwell! She is awesome. She's made a bunch of records (ALL GREAT!) and grew up in Nashville. She's covering a genre that is completely foreign to the music scene here. Imagine a modern Jefferson Airplane. She is a Nashville staple.

You’ve had a few short-lived projects with Caitlin Rose; do you intend to play with her on record in the future?

Definitely, Caitlin is one of my favorite singers of all time. We intend to play together for a long time, but only on grassy knolls.

What’s Holly House’s aim? Where are you all planning to take the collective?

Holly House is the name for a group of us who play shows and hang out together. I don't think it will go any farther than that. We are all doing our own thing and hanging out with each other afterward.

Who came up with the idea behind the “Matchstick Murder” video?

I wrote the script and did all the art direction. I cooked all the food and put together all the costumes. We made that video in a week and for a very small amount of money. Jeff Wyatt Wilson, the director, got all the awesome performances, and worked the cameras and lighting.

You’re planning to release a new album, Charlatans at the Garden Gate, this year. Will it differ from your Deceivers are Achievers EP?

Charlatans at the Garden Gate is 7 additional songs to the EP and new mixes of all the songs. We are also working on new artwork.

Do you have an exact release date yet?

Not yet, we are thinking this summer will be a good time.

Have you got any hopes to expand into the UK during 2010?

Not sure if it will happen this year but I want to come visit the UK as soon as I can!

What else do you have planned; will you tour to promote your new release?

I'm always touring the United States. I feel like I have home bases forming in New York and Chicago. But we are doing a full US tour to promote the record this year!