The Builders and the Butchers – The Spark (album review)

by Woody on May 19, 2017


Photo by Cameron Browne

With the constant flood of new music coming my way, I sometimes lose track of a band or artist that I really enjoy. If I don’t hear anything for awhile, I just assume they’ve broken up or moved on. I had assumed the worst since the Portland 5-piece hadn’t released an album since 2013’s Western Medicine. So when an email hit my inbox announcing The Spark, a smile grew across my face.

For those who are not familiar with the boys, an easy way to describe them would be as dark goth version of The Decemberists. For those familiar with them, The Spark finds them in excellent form. I’ll admit that I was a bit worried when I hit play for the first time, maybe the layoff had softened them a bit. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Fronted by Ben Sollee foreboding vocals, they continue delve into some dark shit which is right in my wheelhouse.

For years, Shirk (the producer of the HearYa sessions) always professed the beauty and importance of space in music – giving the music a chance to breathe. And that is a noticeable difference here, as compared to their last effort. Darker Day is a great example of this. There’s a lot going on as Sollee sings about some dark shit but its subtle, and never overpowering. That tune sticks to your innards for a bit.

Casket Lands is a call & response track built on a tasty banjo lick. Sollee paints a dark picture of the sun burning the farm lands to a crisp, rendering them a giant casket. Never Tell is another choice tune, about a showdown the devil in the afterlife.

The Spark stands among the best work The Builders and the Butchers have even done. If you like your Americana dark, run don’t walk for this one. It’s fantastic.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

The Builders and the Butchers are here

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