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The White Buffalo: Love And The Death Of Damnation

Houses of the unholy.

Like some Breaking Bad freak, Jake Smith, aka the White Buffalo, deals in the desperate: his world view is more Ameri-kharma than Americana, and the outlook ain’t great.

This big old baroque Buffalo lumbers and growls on the robust acoustic grunge of Dark Days, but he plays a variety of roles and introduces a cast of absorbing characters, from false prophets to teenagers living in the hinterland where dubious chemicals and internet porn are common currency.

The music is audacious, a mix of hardcore country, southern rock and deep soul. A self-confessed throwback, Smith is rather like a more muscular Neil Young. He gets cross when he sings about Modern Times and while he’s got a number of love songs they’re all brutal and twisted as in the battle-of-the sexes dissection I Got You, where he’s answered back by Oklahoman singer Audra Mae.

As bleak as it gets on Last Call To Heaven the sheer musicality is a saving grace, so while he’s depressing your pants off The White Buffalo can still thrill you with a burst of brass and a mariachi rhythm. He’s an endangered species.

Max Bell worked for the NME during the golden 70s era before running up and down London’s Fleet Street for The Times and all the other hot-metal dailies. A long stint at the Standard and mags like The Face and GQ kept him honest. Later, Record Collector and Classic Rock called.