Buck Wild

Beat Me Silly

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As it happens, Buckwild's debut album, Beat Me Silly, was the first full-length release on Lobster Records, the label guitarist and vocalist Shawn Dewey started with his friend Steve in the mid-'90s, and it could not represent the label's modus operandi any better. Dewey started the band as a return to playing parties and no-pressure shows, and Beat Me Silly is obviously a work of energetic joy. The album moves effortlessly between brash, modern post-punk ("One Day" resembles what Foo Fighters might sound like if that band was as grounded in punk as they claim, bypassed bright, shiny production, and just played for the fun of it) and punk-pop à la Green Day with vocals that are less interested in the pop half than the punk half of the equation. The music, on the other hand, is spiked by instantly catchy melodies, and the band occasionally breaks into split-seconds of harmony and quiet musical passages. For such a loud album in a genre that prides itself on holding in any impulses of tenderness, Beat Me Silly is surprisingly attitudinal. Many common punk emotions rise to the surface, from anger to boredom, but at least five of the songs betray infatuations or love (including a cover of the Turtles' "Happy Together" that is surprisingly faithful to the original, only kicked in the rear a bit), albeit love that often turns out bad for some reason or other. In "Slipping Away," there is even some self-chiding built in for showing such vulnerability: "Why do I want her...." Buckwild is less impressive when it tries to play it sensitive on the soft sections of "That's the Problem," but when the song kicks into overdrive, it's a monster. Dewey is no crooner, but when he's raging through his words, he navigates an impressive vocal range. Beat Me Silly, it turns out, is an excellent album that generally sticks to its strong suits: controlled aggression that allows its vulnerability to seep to the surface, despite the effort to conceal such a soft heart beating at its core.

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