Monday, November 23, 2015

Blunderbuss - Blunderbuss

Label: self released
Year: 2006

This is a curious tale, this Blunderbuss tale. They were a band in Pittsburgh who started out in the late 80's. If they emerged fully formed, or from the wreckage of any previous groups is not known at this point ("this point" of course, being a reference to my head). They put out 3 7"s and a full length on Homestead all in the 1992 to 1995 range. And remember, Homestead Records were a big label ("big" meaning they put out records by Big Black, Squirrel Bait, Dinosaur Jr, Swans, Sonic Youth, and Nick, not "big" as in "your mother has heard of Homestead", more like "big" as in "the music director at your local college radio station wore a Homestead t-shirt".), but Blunderbuss didn't get a lot of traction outside Pennsylvania. And so, like most bands who don't get much traction, they broke up. And then they decided breaking up was hard to do, so they didn't. They got back together to give it one more shot, and recorded and self released their self titled album. Which was being sold direct from a website being operated by vocalist Ben Matthews, so if you didn't know Ben Matthews, and chances are you don't, then you were probably unaware of the existence of this record. Until the improbable Escape Artist Records, who stepped in a year or so later and re-released the album. Coincidentally, it was one of the last things Escape Artist did release, so it didn't really go anywhere, and I'm not sure Escape Artist's usual fanbase knew what to do with Blunderbuss (you'll kindly remember that Escape Artist made their mark putting out Isis and Playing Enemy and Time In Malta and stuff like that). But wait, this record got a THIRD release in 2014 as part of a full discography survey assembled and released as the (brilliantly titled) "Cutout Bin of the Digital World" by Coolidge Records. You'll be excused if you still weren't aware of it, but at this point you're time's up, you gotta hear it.
Not instrumental, there are vocals on most songs, but the vocals aren't a prominent feature, and when they do show up they're reminiscent of maybe Bob Mould, or John Mohr of Tar. Which could explain why I hear both Husker Du and Tar influences on Blunderbuss. I also hear Crain, a little Six Finger Satellite, some Hurl, and pieces, the less mathy pieces, of Don Caballero. Good things to hear.
Most recently, three quarters of the band joined up with Gene Doyle (formerly of the second version Don Caballero, with he and Jeff Ellsworth of Blunderbuss replacing Pat Morris and Mike Banfield) to form Broughton's Rules (one would assume named after the lead track on this very album) and put out a record on Relapse.



Manny Theiner said...

Good overview. No, Blunderbuss didn't really come out of any previously known bands in the area - they pretty much emerged fully-formed, although in the beginning they sounded more like Unsane and gradually evolved into what I would call more of a Nice Strong Arm, as well as the band references you already made. Just wanted to point out that Broughton's Rules (which is essentially a new instrumental version of Blunderbuss) actually has *two* records out on Relapse: Bounty Hunter and Anechoic Horizon. Keep an eye on these guys! (And btw, I'm the issuer of the first Blunderbuss 7").

Gray said...

Thanks for the additional information!

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