Half a Native

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Houston five-piece Buxton deepen their sojourn into experimental pop pastures on their expansive fourth LP, Half a Native. The group's journey began a decade prior when principal songwriter Sergio Trevino teamed up with multi-instrumentalist Jason Willis and bassist Chris Wise to record their folk-inspired debut, Red Follows Red, in 2005. With each subsequent release, Buxton expanded both musically and in terms of personnel, adding drummer Justin Terrell in 2009 and guitar/keyboard player Austin Sepulvado a year later. By the time they signed to esteemed indie New West Records to release 2012's Nothing Here Seems Strange, they had evolved from a fairly straightforward roots act into more adventurous indie pop purveyors with banjos who still bore some residual Texas twang. While their New West debut was a somewhat wiley affair that pitted Trevino's thoughtful songwriting against mildly chaotic noise bursts and sonic chatter, Half a Native is a far more understated set that leaves some welcome space between the gaps. Working with an outside producer for the first time, Buxton left their home state to record in Los Angeles with Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Vetiver). Whether it's Monahan's influence, the change in location, or a bit of both, Half a Native has a gently melancholic, sun-warmed haze that filters throughout the album, helping it to hang together better than anything the band has released up to this point. The spacy, swirling guitars from their previous release are still present, but they now bounce neatly in a controlled environment softly coloring standouts like "What I'd Do," "Pool Hall," and the lovely title track. There's a weary romance to these songs that seem to want to escape down a ribbon of desert highway, and while this is a sound Buxton have sought before, it seems fully realized here on what may be their strongest effort to date.

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