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Buellton | Avenue of the Flags (FILMguerrero)
With the mid-fi aesthetic of Death Cab for Cutie and the ability to skip from Idaho's brooding to Grandaddy's amiable punk-pop, the debut album from California's Buellton is a surprisingly varied listen. I say 'surprisingly' because the opening quartet of songs seem comfortable residing in the mid-to-slow paced territory of Low or Red House Painters. It's on Angel Feet, with it's intriguing opening lines of "Red and white Italian tablecloth / Wrapped around your body tied with knots / Sit on the couch and twiddle with your toes / Talk about the divorce," that things get really interesting. "I've got angel feet on my mind," is the 'chorus' repeated until fade in a Sparklehorse-esque distorted mantra. The following Sellblocks threatens to reprise the theme before the band suddenly hits full-on indie-rock mode, their stab at commercialism admirably tucked mid-way through the album ?? expect a Dave Fridman remix sometime soon. The similarly infectious Keepin' It Real sounds like Grandaddy jamming with Matt Ward in a musty basement rehearsal space. The contrast between these upbeat tunes and the likes of Seattle Sky, basically a mumbling refrain over a skeletal acoustic guitar and beats backdrop means that closer Grammys '97 is reached with a sense of anticipation, not relief. "I can't believe what I am seeing on my TV...it's more than I can stand" drones vocalist John Nygren, before imploring "stop." His target is Mariah Carey ("what you do is kinda neat but it's too much for me") before hinting "Shania's gonna get it next year." Such Weezerish lyric fodder might suggest yer standard college rock, but Buellton's unpredictability assures Avenue of the Flags' place among the less easily classifiable.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001

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