Buddahead - Ashes
Record Label: Fear of Cheese Records
Release Date: March 28, 2008
There are many reasons to like the new Buddahead release, Ashes. For starters, it’s led by an Iranian vocalist who sings in a falsetto akin to Jeff Buckley and Jimmy Gnecco, and second the music is acoustic-based and layered, straddling a line somewhere close to Fiction Plane, Starsailor and America’s Radford. And yet for every uplifting moment – lead single “Brake,” for starters – there are just as many bland doses of filler, most notably third track “Sour Grapes.” The London quartet has drawn comparisons to both Coldplay and U2 and, aside from the arena-rock heights the disc attempts to soar to, there aren’t many similarities.
It’s good music though, even if it all appears a little too clean and gentle. Vocalist Raman Kia’s voice certainly stands out but after nine tracks leaves the listener weary. The ethereal opener “Run,” is a nice introduction to the vocal prowess but it’s a peculiar choice for an opener. The clang and rattle of fourth track “Curning Out,” would probably have been a more apt opener. It’s also one of the few songs on the album where the band lets the music do the talking, instead of the vocals. That is in essence Buddahead’s major drawback.
Kia seems to want his vocals to be center stage, and while that’s commendable it shouldn’t abandon the music altogether. On far too many tracks (“Standing Still,” “Strangest Most Beautiful” and “Rescue Us”), the band is stripped down to just Kia and guitar, and while it’s effective on some songs – “Standing Still” comes to mind – it’s muddled on others. Everything about Ashes feels primed for "Grey’s Anatomy" or a Lifetime movie, and while that’s not entirely a bad thing, it is a bit banal. Yet when one considers all the noise and drivel that’s passing for music these days, a disc like this is a welcome addition and the start of what could be a commercially viable career.