It's not a huge surprise that Peter Buck is the first member of R.E.M. to release a solo album after their 2011 breakup. Even at the band's peak the guitarist seemed restless, dedicating his downtime to playing, producing, and jamming, appearing on more side projects and singer/songwriter albums than can be counted. With that same sense of urgency he cut his solo debut, hammering it out quickly with such familiar friends as guitarist Scott McCaughey and drummer Bill Rieflin, keeping the door open for such famous friends as Lenny Kaye, Corin Tucker, and Mike Mills, whose presence indicates there is little ill will between the old bandmates. As if to lessen expectations, Buck released the self-titled album in a limited-edition vinyl pressing, but the fact that it's only available on record is appropriate, as this is a complete throwback to the halcyon days before CDs -- not 1975 but 1985, when the paisley underground was thriving alongside a sleazy garage rock revival. Certainly, the most surprising thing about Peter Buck is how filthy it feels. It kicks off with "10 Million BC," a down-and-dirty minor-key rocker that functions as an ideal introduction to Buck's gravelly voice, and this is no one-off. Buck charges through a sleazy little cover of Hound Dog Taylor's "Give Me Back My Wig," rips through "Vaso Loco" -- a song so grimy the words bleed into the guitars -- and even grinds through a slow 12-bar shuffle of "Hard Old World," concluding the LP with a churning, circular psych-rocker called "I'm Alive." Whenever things aren't noisy they're hazy, the album drifting into slow, pretty psychedelia colored by just a hint of folk-rock. It is, in the purest sense, a back-to-basics move for Buck: he's turned the clock back 25 years, making the album he may have always wished R.E.M. made instead of Fables of the Reconstruction.
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