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Birdbrain
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Performer Notes
  • Buffalo Tom: Tom Maginnis, Bill Janovitz, Chris Colbourn.
  • Additional personnel: Monte Rose (guitar); Sean Slade (guitar, background vocals).
  • Personnel: Bill Janovitz (vocals, guitar); Chris Colbourn (vocals); Sean, Sean Slade (guitar, background vocals); Tom Maginnis (drums).
  • Illustrator: Stephanie Nyzio.
  • Photographers: Stephanie Nyzio; Chris Hosford.
  • Unknown Contributor Roles: Chris Colbourn; Tom Maginnis; Bill Janovitz.
  • From the first notes of Buffalo Tom's second album, Birdbrain, it was clear the band had done more than their share of growing up since their self-titled debut, which had come out the year before. The title cut leaps out of the gate with a tight snap that leaves anything on the first album in the dust; drummer Tom Maginnis and bassist Chris Colbourn sound far tighter and more unified as a rhythm section, and guitarist and vocalist Bill Janovitz reveals a taut, slashing authority that was quite a change from the sloppy, sometimes meandering sound he'd summoned up his first time at bat. Just as roadwork had firmed up Buffalo Tom's sound, their songwriting was also steadily improving; the ultra-catchy "Birdbrain" sounded like it could have been a hit single in some alternate universe, while "Guy Who Is Me" and "Crawl" indicated they were learning to work better with trickier structures, and "Enemy" and "Skeleton Key" prove they could slow down effectively and communicate something other than a rant. While the band was still working the last vestiges of their clear Dinosaur Jr. influence at this point (J Mascis was in the producer's chair once again for this set), Birdbrain made it clear Buffalo Tom was far more than just Dino Jr.'s little brother band. The CD adds a nice acoustic cover of "Heaven" by the Psychedelic Furs as a bonus -- yet another touch you would never have expected judging from their debut. ~ Mark Deming
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (2/21/91) - "..a stunning effort...their songs are instantly infectious, simple pop nuggets shrouded with layers of feedback, punchy bass lines and tomahawk drumming.."

Spin (2/91) - "..Buffalo Tom has a cleaner, more accessible sound than Dinosaur Jr. while preserving the essentials, crying guitars and desperate vocals.."

Q (11/90) - 4 Stars - Excellent

NME (Magazine) (10/27/90) - 6 - "a great single but a pretty average album."
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