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Buck Young Channels The American Music Tradition

Buck Young

I’ve known Jason and Zoe from Buck Young for a while at this point. Jason and I message each other pretty frequently both about business – I carry many No Rent titles at my store – and pleasure, which mostly comes down to us discussing the United States or music. Fittingly, Buck Young combines those two things. Crumer told me that Zoe was going to handle PR this go round but that she’d reach out to me with some questions. I ended up writing the band bio for Buck Young’s second LP, which is an absolute scorcher. One of this year’s best. It also functions as a profile for the band, more or less, so I’m including it below. Congrats ya’ll!

“I was sending Jason Crumer live recordings of being on a freight train, traveling across the country, at one point.” That’s Zoe Burke, talking about the creative process behind Buck Young’s forthcoming 2LP Buck II: Where Do You Want It? A long-distance collaborative project between Burke, Crumer, Joseph Hammer, and many others, Buck Young combines classic Americana instrumentation and concepts with the avant-garde, weaving gentle, melodic guitar loops together with field recordings, samples, harsh noise, and vocalization.

While Burke was on a journey hopping intercontinental freight trains – a particularly poetic and cautioning tale of which is captured on album highlight “The Ballad of Bruce McLain” – Crumer was back in the lab both recording and processing audio with folks like Wyatt Howland of Skin Graft, Rose Rae of No Rent Fame, Vanessa Rossetto, Richard Dunn of FFH, and many more.

Buck II is an album about motion and communication – characters, real or otherwise, become attached, miscommunicate in person and via technology, head to the next town, and learning to deal with the shit hands they’ve been dealt, all the while conjuring modern interpretations of John Wayne – see humorous title track narrated by Dunn “Where Do You Want It?” or lead instrumental single “Stop Motion Mississippi,” a cinematic piece that Burke likens to “the feeling of watching time pass.”

Cinema is an important gear in the Buck Young machine. Take the song “Bell Jar of Whiskey,” a song about the unraveling female psyche, nodding to things like Cassavetes’ oeuvre, the Lana Del Rey phenomenon, or – as Burke jokes – “Jennifer Herema after all the fame dies down.” She laughs at that, but then takes the more serious path – “It’s about succumbing to an exclusively feminine weakness, then owning it, and somehow letting it cauterize into power.”

For all the damage, humor, and long-distance stem wrangling in Buck II, the album is tight and cohesive, more seamless than their debut album, brandishing a narrative arc like the best Westerns. Matter of fact, by the end of the record, you can practically see the gang riding West into the sunset.