The Buttertones 'Gravedigging'

My review of The Buttertones' Gravedigging for LA Record.


‘Gravedigging’ picks up right where last year’s ‘American Brunch’ left off: the intersection of surf, rockabilly, punk, and a little something extra that pushes their sound past ‘psychobilly’, ‘surfabilly’, or any other ‘billys’ you might throw at it. This is nighttime music, the sonic equivalent of switchblades, speeding through Dead Man’s Curve and trashy ‘50s B-movies like ‘So Young So Bad.’ Even the song names (‘Pistol Whip,’ ‘Geisha’s Gaze’) read like titles ripped from dime store pulp novels—the kind with busty half-naked women and pompadoured hoods on their covers. These 11 tracks alternate between pre-street-gang-rumble rev-you-up songs—like ‘Neon Cowboy,’ where Richard Araiza rallies his comrades with lyrics like, ‘Use that fire you carry around/Don’t back down’ over a frantic galloping beat—and songs that could soundtrack a ‘60s secret-agent movie. ‘Two-Headed Shark’ manages to make the Peter Gunn theme sound even cooler, and ‘Matador’ makes you feel like you’ve acquired a license to kill—and a taste for shaken martinis. Either way, there are heavy helpings of mutant Dick Dale guitars, Araiza’s unhinged vocals, and London Guzmån’s Plas Johnson-esque strip-club sax. With the exception of the down-tempo ‘I Ran Away,’ these are lightning-fast burners alive with lean, mean energy. There’s always something happening—a tension that makes you fight the urge to look over your shoulder. ‘If you turn around now/You’ll be hunted down,’ Araiza sings on ‘Ghost Safari.’ I’d heed the warning.
— Madison Desler