Most bands pour heart and soul into a debut album and then coast on that momentum through a sophomore effort. Or, as the old industry maxim goes, “You spend your whole life making your first album and nine months making your second album.”
The Builders and the Butchers don’t follow conventional thinking in any form. The Portland, Ore.-based group is comprised of members who all relocated independently from Alaska and organically fell together as a group. Guitarist/singer/songwriter Ryan Sollee cross-pollinated his Punk Rock experience with his newfound love of American Roots music to create songs that bristle with energy, menace and dark melancholy.
The Builders began by busking on the streets of Portland, but within a year of booking actual shows, the band was being hailed by the Northwest press as one of the region’s best new groups.
The Builders’ 2007 eponymous debut was likewise acclaimed as a magnificently raw studio evocation of the group’s visceral live sound, but their latest work, Salvation Is a Deep Dark Well, is the band’s potential fully realized and a slobbering hellhound of an album. Imagine a band that embraces the Gothic Pop swell of The Decemberists, the quivering Punk symphonics of Public Image Ltd., the Americana brimstone of 16 Horsepower and the fist-pumping Folk populism of Country Joe McDonald, with flecks of Tom Waits and Richard Thompson jamming with Led Zeppelin as a mandolin-fueled Bluegrass band. Now imagine that band at a tent revival preaching hell-bent reclamation with eye-rolling, tongue-speaking fervor and instrumental accompaniment that dabbles in damnation as convincingly as it trumpets redemption.
Can I get an amen for the Builders and the Butchers? Damn well better.
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