Review: Buck Young – Buck II: Where Do You Want It? (No Rent Records & Wonderland Media, Sep 10)

Pressing vinyl is not cheap. For small independent labels like Jason Crumer and Zoe Burke’s No Rent Records (and John Gardner’s Wonderland Media, with whom the physical release of Buck II is split), a vinyl release is often an infrequent luxury, a special occasion to celebrate something important, something worthy of a larger physical presence. Of the three LPs that No Rent has put out so far, Crumer and Burke’s eclectic project Buck Young is behind two, spreading their sprawling collages of Americana and country-folk, scrabbling tape manipulation, blasting noise, and a host of other styles across 2017’s Proud Trash Sound (reviewed here) and now Buck II: Where Do You Want It? This two-record set expands upon and outdoes its predecessor in virtually every facet, boasting a longer list of collaborators, forty more minutes of material, and an even more insane cover design. But despite its ambitious expansion, the project’s sophomore release in no way abandons the attention to detail, elusive warmth, and well-placed moments of beauty that made Proud Trash Sound so special (the heartbreaking elegy “Murdoch” still never fails to make me tear up).

The slide guitar ambience that’s peppered throughout offers a basis for both steady pacing and an overall more reserved atmosphere—which, based on the aggressively colorful, hallucinatory cover art, I was definitely not expecting. And each artist that lends their talents to the album shines in their own way. As soon as the first outburst of piercing feedback hit on “Woke Up in Reno,” I smiled to myself knowing this is so undeniably a Crumer project; Joseph Hammer’s stuttering tape yanks are a constant source of both humor and affecting fragility; Zoe Burke’s sardonic country stomp is back with force on “Ballad of Bruce McCain,” and she brings some amazing Western vocal grit on “Long Distance Phone Call”; and I believe Alan Jones contributes much of the guitar work, clatters and twangs and noodlings that stitch everything together. Making the album even more of a team effort are the other musicians—Vanessa Rossetto, Rose Rae, Richard Dunn, Wyatt Howland, Waylon Riffs—that spike the already diverse stylistic cocktail with their own flavors. Even at 72 minutes, Buck II never overstays its welcome—though time does seem to stop within the arresting confines of “Scorpion”—and the fantastically strong set of four tracks that closes it out simultaneously wrap everything up and remind you how much there is to love about this truly unique sound that Crumer, Burke, and company have achieved.

“No Rent stocks the black vinyl, tapes and CDs. For wholesale and color vinyl inquiries please visit Wonderland Media.”

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