BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Luke Buda: Vesuvius (Arch Hill)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Luke Buda: Vesuvius (Arch Hill)

This exceptional album by Buda of the Phoenix Foundation may take some getting used to for a few people: it is ambitious (and often lyrically funny or provocative) wide-screen pop which unashamedly doesn't shy from a McCartney-like hook, or deploying lap steel to fine effect -- as well as conjuring up the innocence of mid 60s pop (Electric Waterfall has a melody, guitar solo and vocal harmonies which could have come off a Peter and Gordon album).

But P&G or McCartney never wrote a song entitled Empty Eyes, Generous Thighs (which, incidentally is not a knock-about comedy romp but boasts a beautifully sensitive melody).

This is often lushly presented (produced by Lee Wallace who has done everyone from Trinity Roots and Black Seeds to the Phoenix Foundation and Steve Abel) and on songs like My Imminent Demise (which starts like a downbeat Wilco-pop piece then soars like a show tune) there is a gloriously uplifting quality that is rare in New Zealand music.

Buda is on record as professing an admiration for 70s pop and that is clear in many places here -- with a touch of widescreen country-rock (The Answer is Always Yes) -- and the inner sleeve (right) conjures up as much.VesuviusIceWeb14_1

Downbeat, but a heart that will lift you up.

Got a strong feeling that this layered, intelligent and spirited album (with a few dark corners of course) will end up as Best of Elsewhere 2008. 

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Shaun - Dec 20, 2008

“Vesuvius”, Luke Buda’s second solo outing, grabbed me from the opening chords of first song “Crystal Ham”. There is something immediately warm and familiar about Buda’s music for me (while still being totally original)- maybe it is the 70’s influences he readily acknowledges (I’ve read somewhere that ELO were a band of listening choice for him during the making of this album- god, I remember requesting “Telephone Line” on the Radio Avon request line as 10 year old living in Christchurch at the time!)

Like his 2006 “Special Surprise” album, (equally superb it is too), Vesuvius has me trying to sing along to at times improbably (and for me, impossibly) high lines in choruses, (try hitting it right while singing the line “wherever they may be” in the beautiful song “My Imminent demise”).

“Lush”, “Soaring” and “Majestic” are all words that appear in reviews of this album, and it is hard to go past them. A little bit country (not so much rock’n’roll), deliciously dripping with intelligent pop, smart lyrics (“Like a weekend Dad, you don’t do all that you can”- from Weekend Dad; and, if I am hearing correctly, from Crystal Ham the brilliant “But you always love to talk, and if you ever stop then I know that I’m shit outta luck”) For a bit of fun with reading his lyrics(??!!)- and a whole lot more- visit the excellent website http://www.specialsurprise.co.nz/

Like its predecessor, Vesuvius is seldom out of the cd tray, and is likely to be that way for many more months- for me, surely a sign of one of the albums of the year.

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