Asides From...

So what you get is a whole bunch of heartbreak rock tunes...

Lighters aloft? Good. Then allow Boston's most emotionally bruised, Buffalo Tom, to remind you that overdriven balladeering with a mildly cracked voice was their bag long before pale imitators like Stereophonics hatched out. And, as well as documenting the Tom's rich 11-year history, 'Asides From' argues that the age of trad songwriting with rusty old work tools ain't over yet.

Surfing in on the wave that heralded other Bostonian underground luminaries such as Dinosaur Jr and Throwing Muses, Buffalo Tom - Bill Janovitz, Chris Colbourn and Tom Maginnis - had two simple objectives: melody and melancholy. Nothing new there, but since their debut eponymous album in '88 (represented here by the dog-eared wig-out of 'Sunflower Suit'), they surpassed their own expectations and evolved into one of the 20th century's great low-flyers; forging the tunecentric link between H|sker D| and Neil Young.

So what you get is a whole bunch of heartbreak rock tunes, taking in all six studio albums, plus their modernised, slo-mo take on 'Going Underground', BT's first UK Top Ten hit. From the magnificent ode to treasured memories that is 'Summer' (from the 'Sleepy Eyed' LP) to 'Larry' and the gloomfest of 'Taillights Fade' (from '92's 'Let Me Come Over' - the album that perhaps truly defined the band's sensibilities), this compilation pays its dues to the songwriters' lodge, but has enough front to withstand the inevitable criticisms of being too earnest.
8 / 10

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