CD REVIEW: Butchers Blind - Destination Blues
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Label: Paradiddle Records
Genre: Americana, Rock, R&B, Folk
Sounds Like: Counting Crows, Cracker, Gin Blossoms and Buddy Miller
Technical Grade: 9/10
Weakness: More solo segments, More vocal emotion
New York based Butchers Blind juts released their latest release entitled “Destination Blind” in 2013. Their new record, Destination Blues, marks a significant step forward for the band. They are venturing into new musical territory while keeping one foot firmly grounded in the sound they established with their first record, Play for the Films. The focus for this CD was on capturing the live energy of their current lineup as they continue to explore and develop their own sound. Destination Blues will be released on Paradiddle Records. While bands like Whiskeytown and Uncle Tupelo helped shape their Americana roots, the raw energy of influences like the Replacements and the Hold Steady give them a rock sensibility. Pete Mancini’s confident, yet vulnerable vocals give their sound a rich texture. His songwriting draws you in and if you listen close enough you can hear the future of Alt-Country music in every note.
The CD kicks gets off the ground nicely with the Track 1 “Nobody Heats What I say Anymore” a heartfelt flowing ballad that serves up well placed fiddles, guitar driven groove meshed against walking bass line, effective harmonies and soulful melody from Mancini. Track 2 Tear It Down” shifts gears a bit with steady flowing rhythm, well placed guitar chops painted against a grand slam chorus making for an impressive follow-up statement. Track 3 “OPP” is another impressive groove that dishes out rock steady rhythm, impressive and shall we say thought provoking lyrical content that flows and ebbs its way through to motional fruition. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 rock solid songs in a row. The musicianship of everyone involved (Pete Mancini - Guitar, Vocals Paul Cianciaruso - Drums, Vocals Brian Reilly - Bass Christopher Smith – Keyboards) is above the bar. I would classify this music as classic Pop, Americana, with brief touches of Modern Country and even Saloon Jazz to R&B. Music is reminiscent of classic Counting Crows, Cracker, Gin Blossoms and Paul Simon. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like impressive fiddles, organ, impressive rhythm and solo guitar, well placed Piano, percussion, impressive Hammond Organ, lush harmonies all built upon a thick as a brick rhythm section. What I like the most about this band is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of writing and rehearsal time no doubt. Now turning our attention over to Mancini - as for his vocal abilities well he’s a great advent. His voice goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully and unobtrusively with a timber that is simply infectious. I might add he takes some impressive vocal risks indicating to me a confident vocal ability. All songs are extremely well crafted and consistent across the board - world class songwriting. This CD from Butchers Blind delivers 11 solid tracks all providing musical enjoyment filled with strong musical variety and diversity. The music of Butchers Blind has everything you would expect from a world class musical production. From rock steady “Destination Blues” and "Young Again” to clever “Honestly” to smooth as silk “College Town” to heartfelt “Drowned” to waltzing “Selfish Silent Films” to rocking “Enough Already Anyway” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 11 "Burn up Bright (Lower East Side)" the perfect finale statement for a CD like this.
It’s hard to find any serious weaknesses with this release. I do however wish there were more extended solo segments throughout the catalog. I also recommend Mancini somehow bring more vocal emotion to the table on some of his performances. This can be done by providing more vocal peak and valley within the vocal delivery. Just listen to Joe Cocker’s “You are so Beautiful” or R.E.M “Hairshirt” to see what I’m talking about. At the end of the day people don’t buy paper and plastic, they buy emotion. It's a critical component especially within this genera. Perhaps dedicate 1 or 2 pieces on future release to this slow heart stopping emotional writing style, and a few movements that really showcase his pin drop vocal skills.
From start to finish "Destination Blues” by Butchers Blind is a barnburner collection of music. The songwriting – the gold standard, all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire catalog. The writing and playing abilities of Mancini and company are rock solid. The melodies and harmonies are well crafted, and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with good old fashioned conventional wisdom At the end of the day Butchers Blind brings the mojo and is clearly a marquee talent based out of New York. One would be wise to keep a watchful eye on him over the years to come.