Despite again working with Steve Fisk, Butch doesn't quite put it all together like the marvelous debut Lost Somewhere Between the Earth and My Home, if only because it's not as much of a total reach of styles as that record. By no means is Carla Bozulich's ear for, or abilities at, various country and traditional approaches gone -- the opening track "California Tuffy" shows her vocals, in-your-face as always, have that great, deep twang. Generally, though, Butch isn't so much the work of a band crossing readily between musical realms as coming down firmly on the rock side with definite country touches. On that level, however, it's a great effort, with Bozulich more than once returning to her more strident Ethyl Meatplow roots, at least in terms of overall volume if not industrial beats. "Toybox" is a massive, brawling monster of a track, where Nels Cline's guitar and Kevin Fitzgerald's blasting drums set the pace even as Jessy Greene's violin slices through the mix like a demented banshee. Throughout the album all the band members pull off some amazing performances -- it's little surprise Cline continued to work with Bozulich in Scarnella based on his sometimes aggressive, sometimes calm contributions. Perhaps the most surprising touch is the inclusion of a cover of Can's Krautrock classic "Yoo Doo Right," but much like fellow Californians Thin White Rope, the Fibbers work their own magic on the song, with Bozulich commandingly leading everyone through a fierce take. Little on the album is quiet, but there are songs where taking a softer touch at points comes up trumps, like the sweet, seaside push of "Trashman in Furs," which is able to sound epic without having to hammer it home. When the band lets go and gets completely down-home, like on the enjoyable romp "Folks Like Home" and the slow singalong "Pet Angel," it's among Butch's best moments.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett