LiveVibes at the Donegal Saloon – BuzzUniverse
If you were listening to jamband music in the early '90s, or ever caught a H.O.R.D.E. tour, BuzzUniverse probably fits the sonic definition of “jamband” that was in your head back then, and I’ll be damned if it isn’t actually refreshing to hear these days. This once-requisite jamband live album opens with “This Ol’ Cowboy,” which has a sort of country calypso thing going on, with some flute for good measure, and the jams even achieve an '80s sitcom theme-song sound at times. “Homer’s Mountain” is next, with its two distinct parts. First is the hokey beach party sing-a-long of part A, “Too Much Pressure,” followed by the much more enjoyable hyper ska flavor of part B, the aptly-named “Feelin’ Better.” Greg McLoughlin’s throbbing bassline on “All of My Friends” really drives the song, taking it into fairly dark territory while always keeping things perfectly danceable. On the catchy “You and Me” we start to see why almost every band member has vocal credits listed in the liner notes—they like to do this sort of, big family band, everyone sings the chorus together type thing. It actually works on a few different levels, giving the music even more of a down home, we’re all in this together kind of sound.
“Evangeline” is fairly similar to the mood created on “This Ol’ Cowboy,” but with more of a straight-up country sound and some accordion and female vocals added to give it a nice old timey feel. The horns on “Lovelight Babylon” really make the song, and you can tell that this one probably keeps the dancefloor moving. It’s one of many tunes here that also appear on the band’s birdfishtree album. “In The Sun” might be the hands down best track of the bunch, with great energy and a bouncy funk groove throughout. A cover of Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine” could have honestly been left on the cutting room floor, as the whole “it’s scary and I’m falling down a hole” vibe just seems bizarrely out of place. Things get back on track quickly with “Hydroponic Boogie” though, as its frantic and lively energy lends itself perfectly to some almost jazzy explorations. The closing “Up The Mountain” rips right out of the gate, but for the most part falls flat. Overall, LiveVibes at the Donegal Saloon is a great introduction to jamband music, for those of you who don’t remember what it used to sound like before the world’s genre-namers got so damned lazy.