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Buck and the Black Cats

Ask For Buck & the Black Cats – 2000 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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Fans of the current rockin' hillbilly sound (as exemplified by the likes of the Dave and Deke Combo and the Stillmen) will want to make a point of checking out this Vermont quartet's second album.

Led by guitarist/vocalist Buck Maynard (with some fine piano and accordian work from Charlie Mack), the band does a fine job on a variety of styles, including Ray Price shuffles ("Where Were You"), piano-driven boogie-woogie ("I Can't Find Good Pay"), jazzy instrumental workouts ("Chuckleberry Boogie" and "Pitch n' Putt"), Tex-Mex ("Heartbreak Ahead") and even a pretty convincing stab at a vintage Johnny Cash sound ("Waiting On This Line").

Indeed, if a single criticism can be aimed at the band, it would be that their approach is, if anything, a little too all-encompasing. The band would fit in well with the kind of rockin' hillbilly approach popular on the West Coast over the past few years, but the small core of songs in that style (including "You're No Good at All" and "Running Late") are a mighty thin glue with which to hold together such a disparate mix of styles.

A fine release, when all is said and done, but try to avoid the temptation to be all things to all people next time, guys. (687 Creek Farm Road, Colchester, VT 05446)