The Buffalo Skinners - 'Cease Your Dreaming' - cover (300dpi)The implosion of the music industry in recent years has made it increasingly difficult to make a living out of making music, but it’s also led to a some creative thinking on the part of artists about getting their work out there. One of the more creative solutions has been the songwriting collective; The Jar Family in the north-east and The Buffalo Skinners in Sheffield are a couple of examples. There are similarities between the two (apart from working out of former northern industrial strongholds); each has four frontmen and the influences they pull together create an eclectic and electric mix. Even by today’s standards of eclecticism, “Cease Your Dreaming” is a very, very varied album and you’re never quite sure where it’s going next.

The album opens with the simple skiffle stylings of “We Get Along” (with a nice fiddle solo thrown in), moves through seventies pop-rock with “Sam’s Chop House” before “Play to Lose” has a walking bassline and harmonies that could easily come from an early Beatles single. You shouldn’t get the idea that all of the influences are fifty years old though; keyboard and mandolin player Kieran Thorpe’s vocals have a definite indie intonation, sounding a lot like the Kooks’ Luke Pritchard. The range of instruments played by Keiran, James Nicholls, Peter Secombe, Miles Stapleton and Robbie Thompson allows the band to move between various styles with ease as they move from slapback Sun Studios to English folk, sixties pop and the Mexican feel of the album’s penultimate song, “Remember Me”; they’re completely convincing and comfortable whatever the tempo and style.

There’s plenty to like about “Cease Your Dreaming”, nothing to dislike and a couple of songs to love. If you twisted my arm, I’d probably say the Mexican-tinged lament, “Remember Me” and the lo-fi tale of the failed guitar-slinger, “Delta Blues” are standouts. As I say far too often with bands like this, you really need to get out and see them live. They’re doing the UK and Europe at the moment; go on, make the effort to go and see them.

“Cease Your Dreaming” is released on Friday July 15th on Loose Chat Records (LCR005).