Roots-rock & roll group The Buffalo Skinners began life in 2010 as a busking band in Scarborough, selling their self-produced analogue EP from an accordion case. The band, then all acoustic and made up of violin, accordion, drums, guitars and five vocals have been in an ongoing process of evolution and expansion since; acoustic guitars have turned into valve driven electrics, accordions have met with the warmly Fender Rhodes, earthy violins have found their way to tube amps, and vocal harmonies have tempered into more refined and considered structure.

‘Picking Up What You’re Putting Down’ is the latest expression of this sonic evolution and marks a headlong dive into electric territories previously hinted at in moments of 2016’s ‘Cease Your Dreaming.’ The album is a transatlantic production, partly recorded and produced by original band member Lawrence Menard at Mantle Records in California, and partly in the UK with engineers David Haynes and Robin Downe of Yellow Arch Studios in Sheffield, which sits in the heart of the city’s old red-light district.

Menard is set to be welcomed back into the fold for upcoming UK shows in the spring after having last appeared on 2014’s ‘The Other Nine-to-Five.’ With members now scattered across the globe, it certainly has become a lot harder to meet down on the corner than it was in 2010, but not impossible, given the collective enthusiasm and vision for the project.

Reflecting on the process, Menard comments “Because we’ve spent countless hours playing music together, when the band sent their parts to me, I knew exactly where I would fit. I approached mixing the album in the same way that I’ve mixed in analogue studios. The aim was to ‘glue’ my recorded parts in alongside the main tracks, and ‘put everyone in the same room as each other’ whilst trying to do justice to some of the iconic sounds of our favourite records. The album captures the exciting spontaneity that has always existed creatively within the band.”

With overtones of 21st century American sounds like The Felice Brothers, Big Thief and The Deslondes, alongside the classic song writing influences of British groups such as The Beatles, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones, the record wears influences on its sleeve, but brings them together to create something new.

The first single ‘Washing My Hands’ dances around the idea of ‘letting go’ with wit, harmony and charm. Reflecting on the song’s inspiration, writer Peter Seccombe comments “When you’re stuck and you can’t see a way out, the lightbulb flashes above your head. You can just wave goodbye, shut the door or wash your hands.“

Lyrically the album goes on to sing of reckless living (Picking Up What You’re Putting Down, Come Down and Slim Richmond), the daily grind of work (Carve Yourself A Stone), and the coming of age into parenthood (Sonny Song and Double Blue Line).

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Fiddle player James Nicholls’ harmonic arrangements and ‘wall of sound’ layering are a defining feature of the musical landscape, all the while sitting alongside melodic creativity and spontaneity.

Forever a band of multi-instrumentalists The Buffalo Skinners tend to make use of both the studio and live instrumentation in whatever way serves the song, without too much fixity on who plays what.

Menard speaks about tracks ‘Picking Up What You’re Putting Down’ and ‘Wrong Crowd.’ “When I was recording demos of my potential parts and sending them to the rest of the band, I asked if they preferred the keyboard sound or the electric guitar. When they said keep them both I thought it would just be something extra for the record. But when we started rehearsing for the tour, I realised I could jump up from the keyboard and grab my guitar just in time for the solo.”

Menard’s ‘Slim Richmond’s Fender Rhodes keyboard transports listeners to a lost ‘Let It Be’ session, with the unexpected addition of a fiddle in place of a Telecaster, paying homage to the band’s 1970’s influences. The song culminates in lead singer Peter Seccombe’s raw vocals, urging to “cut your losses and settle up” in an extended Jim Morrison-like scream that adds a visceral intensity to the track’s narrative. More echoes of The Doors’ influence on the band permeate through in the penultimate song on the album, ‘Come Down,’ with its brooding Fender Rhodes and commanding lead vocals.

The record’s closing track ‘Regret, Regret’ includes cameos from old friends Holy Moly and The Crackers and Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra. This reflective 8-minute-long piece explores the notion of regret through intricate verse, giving lyricist Peter Seccombe’s storytelling prowess room and time enough to showcase itself. The song also features a guest verse from another founding band member, Robbie Thompson, who though absent from much of this record is set to make guest appearances on the band’s upcoming tour.

The Buffalo Skinners’ adventures have taken them all over (North America, Ireland, France, Germany, Norway), from their humble beginnings as a Scarborough busking band to performing at some of the most renowned music festivals in the UK (Glastonbury, Cambridge Folk Festival, Tramlines, Kendal Calling, BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park) and earning the attention, air-play and esteem of many high profile BBC radio DJs including Steve Lamacq, Cerys Matthews, Janice Long, Bob Harris,  Paul Jones and Dermot O’Leary.

The Buffalo Skinners Tour Dates:

  • May 08 – Gullivers, Manchester
  • May 09 – The Jam Jar, Bristol
  • May 10 – The John Peel Centre, Stowmarket
  • May 12 – The Lexington, Islington
  • May 14 – Cluny 2, Newcastle
  • May 15 – The Hug & Pint, Glasgow
  • May 16 – Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds
  • May 17 – Yellow Arch Venue, Sheffield