Clueless about Killing Buddha

It isn’t entirely surprising that the bartenders at the Fox & Goose had no idea that Killing Buddha was playing last Thursday night. In fact, they were so clueless as to the events of the evening that their response was essentially noncommittal. I was given a booker’s number to confirm, but the number I was given had been disconnected. The date did not appear on the Fox & Goose’s Web site (which was a month out of date), nor did it appear in this newspaper’s online show listings. It doesn’t seem that someone dropped the ball but rather that everyone dropped the ball—a problem which seems increasingly apparent in Sacramento’s live-music scene.

It’s a shame that there was so little information available because Killing Buddha was performing its first show within the Sacramento city limits, and the band is worthy of your attention. Led by singer/guitarist/bassist/keyboardist Wesley James (formerly of Birthday/Orisha), Killing Buddha is one of an increasing number of hard psychedelic bands which seem to look toward Radiohead’s 1995 release The Bends as their musical blueprint.

Not that Killing Buddha is redundant. Like local band Call Me Ishmael (which shares much the same sound), Killing Buddha provides listeners with a strong and diverse sonic palette, one that alternates between heavily distorted moments and more dreamy soundscapes that remind at times of Icelandic dream-rock outfit Sigur Rós. This quality is underscored by the presence of Sandi Leeper (formerly of Pyre), whose voice and keyboards help develop the more spacey passages.

If there’s one criticism of Killing Buddha, it’s that the drum work of Jason Kenney doesn’t quite seem in line with the rest of the band. Indeed, Kenney does seem a competent drummer, but Killing Buddha’s music is generally complex, and the drum work seems somehow too simple, at times relying on what are essentially drum clichés. On the one hand, perhaps this is what Killing Buddha is after: some kind of solid foundation, which in turn allows the rest of the band to build up to a wider soundscape. Nonetheless, a bit more complexity from the rhythm section could help put Killing Buddha’s music on the next-higher plane. This particular critique was underscored on Thursday night by those few moments when Kenney did play more complex rhythms. More of the same, please!

Check out the band on October 24 at the Capitol Garage.

James Finch Jr.'s tour of England, Scotland and Ireland was cut short when the English deported him back to the United States due to lack of funds and the possibility that Finch is a terrorist (red beards apparently don’t go over so well at Heathrow Airport). Let’s hope we get to hear about the experience in song.

7Seconds is finishing up a new album under the working title of Steals It Back. The completed album will be available early next year from SideOneDummy Records (the home of Flogging Molly and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones). Rumor has it that the finished version will feature 14 to 16 songs, none of which lasts more than two minutes.