I was as surprised as anyone when it was announced in early 2012 that Peter Buck would be releasing a solo album and even more surprised that he would be singing. As the guitarist for R.E.M. after 31 years, it was quite a turnaround, and truth be told, I was very skeptical. The resulting debut was a neat, garage-spirited collection which I (overall) liked. Now Buck returns with this second solo album, I Am Back To Blow Your Mind Once Again, and again, it’s another fun gathering of friends and rawkin’. And like the first release, this is ALBUM only, through the folks at Mississippi Records.
Opening with “Ride That Road”, the guitar figure is infectious as the song is wrapped around a strong melody. With Buck’s Tom Waits-like vocal and boogie piano, it’s a good way to kick off proceedings. “Life Is Short” is reminiscent of “Sweet Jane”; with introspective lyrics and nice harmonies/backing vocals, it’s an early pleaser and the quasi-backwards guitar solo is tasty. “You Must Fight To Live On The Planet Of The Apes” is silly but fun and rocks with crunchy guitars.
Side Two starts off with a cacophony leading into an acoustic number, “Welcome To The Party”; a semi-melancholic track with a nicely subdued Lee Hazelwood-ish vocal delivery. “Gotta Get Out Of The House” is the album’s standout – a Detroit/garage sound (think Mooney Suzuki-style?) which motors along and is very catchy and melodic – almost like a slowed-down Undertones. “Fell On My Own Sword” is another great song – and I keep using the word “melody”; this songs on this album are chock full of them. Sung by Scott McCaughey, it’s the other strong track from this album. “West Of Sunset” has a very Stones-y feel and is a singalong with handclaps and brass punches. Finally, “Roswell” is a slightly eerie instrumental which closes the record out in unusual style.
In all, an enjoyable sophomore effort from Pete Buck. 2 albums in 2 years is a good start to a solo career and both have been a pleasant surprise. I Am Back To Blow Your Mind Once Again doesn’t blow your mind, but it does make you tap your foot.