Sometime last year, I read this phrase: like a cross between Big Black and Naked Raygun. A few keystrokes and mouse clicks later, I navigated my way to Buildings' bandcamp. The cover for the album is mesmerizing. Sure the girl is attractive, but her arms are oddly contorted and her face is haunting. I'll leave it at that. From first listen, I immediately put them on my list of bands to target for last year's Total Fest. They came. They played. They kicked ass. So much so that we asked them to come back.
I have a soft-spot for bands like Buildings. It's hard hitting, pulsating, and driven by underlying aggression and hostility; and, it's not afraid to challenge its influences. The trio (Brian, Travis, and Joe) stand on the shoulders of everything we love about those AmRep style bands, but they do not simply regurgitate some half-assed nostalgic attempt to sound retro. Like their first album, 2012's Melt, Cry, Sleep pounds its way through 10 brutally, abrasive songs, but it does so in a well polished and meticulous way that doesn't call attention to itself. Let me try to say that in a different way: they're good musicians who can handle their instruments, know each other well enough to take chances, and have the balls to crash it into the wall. Plus, I dig subtle. I like music that makes you work a little bit, and I like albums that make me pause when I'm working or walking around the house. Don't get me wrong, I'm not gyrating my hips as I do the dishes, but Buildings give me pause. Beneath the snarls and thunder are layers upon layers of atonal shifts and solid straight-up grooves that challenge expectations and lead the songs in completely different directions. Not a band to disappoint, 2013's split release with Atlanta's Hawks is an awesome addition, but it's, frankly, just not enough. Two tracks! Granted one song is "Mouthgift" (yeah, I dig that title -- oddly, snotty in a way). Around the 1:30 mark of LPGA the song feels as if its ready to devour itself, but it thrashes itself back into existence. Where LPGA twists, Mouthgift drags and pulls you across the floor. Plus the lyrics are priceless.
Oh, I forgot to mention that they're nice guys. Solid dudes. (Sorry gents, I hope that doesn't ruin your street cred).