New Buffalo : The Last Beautiful Day

Jeff Terich


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Upon attempting to come up with my favorite Australian musical artists of all time (while amusing myself with lists of Aussie actors), I did a Google search for “Australian celebrities.” You can imagine the results. Of course, that phrase popped up a lot, followed by either “nude” or “naked” and warnings that you can’t enter the site unless you are 18 years of age. So I abandoned the porn and settled on a toss-up between AC/DC and The Birthday Party. Yet, it seems like there haven’t been too many recent Australia transports that have caught my ear. I enjoy the Avalanches, even though it’s been four years since they put out a record. And many of the Sabbath and Zeppelin-inspired bands coming out of the region have been okay, if somewhat forgettable.

So leave it to the Canadians to introduce us to a great new Australian talent, New Buffalo. Having established herself in her native land, NB’s Sally Seltmann makes her debut in America this month on hot Canadian label Arts&Crafts. Branching out beyond the Broken Social Scene family, the label has found their most exotic import in Seltmann, a sort of Australian equivalent to the label’s Leslie Feist.

Teaming up with Madonna and Björk super-producer Jake Davies, Seltmann creates a debut that’s quirky and warm, yet timeless and classic. Take a heavy stack of samples, some starkly gorgeous melodies and a subtly alluring diva, and The Last Beautiful Day is the result — a debut with ten great songs and an identity all its own, which will make quite the difference standing alongside the Toronto heavy-hitters on her new label.

The hand-clappy percussion and gentle orchestration of “Recovery” instantly recall a more organic Stereolab, albeit with a more emotional epicenter. The plinky piano samples on “I’ve Got You and You’ve Got Me” lend a fuzzy, slightly trippy vibe to the waltzing ballad. And “Time to Go to Sleep” is a delightfully space-age lullaby, making for an endearingly nostalgic bit of lovely lounge pop.

The Last Beautiful Day on the whole is a pretty, laid back album of pristine balladry, similar to onetime tourmate Ed Harcourt and the aforementioned Feist. It’s a marked difference from the widescreen pop for which the Arts&Crafts imprint has become known. New Buffalo may not have made a name for herself over here quite yet, but in time, there’s a good chance she’ll find a home with singer-songwriter fans alongside the Harcourts, Wainwrights and Brions.

Similar Albums:
Ed Harcourt – Here Be Monsters
Feist – Let It Die
Monade – A Few Steps More

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