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Big Red Letter Day

music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Big Red Letter Day

Artist: Buffalo Tom
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: November 1993

Review by LarryG
3 stars out of 4

Buffalo Tom are the quintessential college radio band, making music with catchy tunes, jangly guitars and a little anguish in their lyrics. They obviously owe a lot to R.E.M. but their music is appealing in its own right. Buffalo Tom became college radio stars with Let Me Come Over and its singles, the moving emotional ballad Tailights Fade and the fun, raucous rocker Velvet Roof. Big Red Letter was a further step forward with a fuller sound provided by producers the Robb brothers.

Big Red Letter Day is filled with likable, energetic rock. You've probably heard Big Red Letter Day's Sodajerk used as background music for TV commercials. Bill Janovitz' slicing guitar is very appealing and the song has an exhilarating feel. While it's about Janovitz' troubled feelings towards an ex-girlfriend, Tree House has Janovitz' energetic singing and guitar playing and a great driving beat. It finishes on an especially ecstatic note with Maxine and Julia Waters' uplifting backing vocals, singing "seasons change." Janowitz' gritty, rough vocals and tough and unshowy but melodic guitar propel a number of buoyant rockers: Latest Monkey, Dry Land and Suppose.

The slow songs on Big Red Letter Day also work. Sometimes the band is a little too serious but the seriousness is youthful, searching and thoughtful, not pretentious. I'm Allowed is a heartfelt ballad from Janovitz. Bass player Chris Colbourn has a plainer voice than Janovitz but he has a sincere, honest charm. He nearly stole the show on Buffalo Tom's next record, Sleepy Eyed, with his fun Kitchen Door and sad Twenty Points. On Big Red Letter Day, Colbourn has two likable turns on lead vocals. Late at Night, apparently about trying to keep sad thoughts about a woman out of his bedroom, is charmingly awkward. You can picture Colbourn writing the simple song, focusing on its basic, clear chord changes.

Buffalo Tom can sometimes be a little too earnest but the songs are good and well played. The band is serious about constructing their songs but the results are usually very enjoyable.



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