REVIEW: Buxton “Stay Out Late” Plays Experimental-Pop Flavored Americana

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On their last album, Half a Native (New West/2015), Buxton began incorporating more pop into their alternative country-rock sound. Stay Out Late (New West), released this October, sees Buxton, inspired by Talk Talk’s 1991 post-rock masterpiece, Laughing Stock, evolving their sound in the direction of piano-driven experimental pop. Stay Out Late radiates warmth and pleases the ear, expansive beyond but still faithful to its Americana roots.

The pop that Buxton embraces here is not the countrypolitation Nashville sound. The experimental pop that Buxton embraces here is an entirely different animal. Think Wilco’s pop experimentation, not Kacey Musgraves.

Stay Out Late defies traditional ideas about genres. It doesn’t quite sound like much alt-country or country-rock, and it doesn’t quite sound like most pop either. Hints of twang suggest membership in the broad Americana family, though Buxton’s use of electronic instruments here differentiates this album from the vast majority of that genre. The tracks vary in their feel, with “New World” the most country-inflected.

Buxton enhances their sound with electronic elements without losing sight of their commitment to a core concept. A buzzing sound backgrounds the melody on “Haunt You.” At times, Buxton uses synths for melody, but at others they’re wise enough to just let the guitar take over.

In February, Buxton has a five-date tour through their native Texas, New Orleans, and Phoenix, with their New West labelmate, Daniel Romano, as opening act. Despite the distance separating their points of origin, Buxton and the Canadian Romano have much in common. Purveyors of psychedelically-tinged country-rock, both released albums this year that mined experimental pop sounds to produce a kind of weird Americana. (See my review of Daniel Romano’s album  “Finally Free”.)

That tour begins February 5. For a list of dates and venues, see the band’s website. Stay Out Late is available now on sale and streaming.

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