steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion


"Ashes" CD

Fear of Cheese

Genre: rock/pop

New York, New York

Nov 6, 2008

Buddahead's pop music is all about the songwriting. Led by Raman Kia, this fourpiece plays radio-friendly, mainstream-ish alternative pop/rock with a strong melodic quality. Kia himself has been involved in major label songwriting before, and this experience comes through in the polished nature of Ashes. Part of this can also be attributed to the hand of Pete Glennister, who has a long history in production and session playing.

The music itself, though more or less radio-ready, could benefit from a less traditional sound. "Standing Still" and opener "Ruin" exploit the Coldplay formula, while "Strangest Most Beautiful" takes a major cue from Radiohead. The production throughout is spotless, and the songwriting is sufficiently infectious, although many songs have a frustrating sense of ubiquity to them. Also troubling for an album such as this is a lack of a hands-down best track. Every song on Ashes exudes a sense of comforting familiarity after repeated listens, but you won't find yourself humming any of the songs independently. As it stands, anthemic "If I Tried" is probably their best shot at a "single," but even so it seems to be missing something that would bring it to another level. "Story of Our Lives" also has potential as teen soap soundtrack fodder, although its brand of sunset-esque acoustic pop is more than a little derivative.

As it stands, Ashes is pleasant but unmemorable - a pop album that speaks volumes about Buddahead's potential as a band, but fails to live up to expectations. Perhaps all Raman Kia needs is some time to develop; I get the sense that, in time, he could become a really great pop songwriter.

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youuuuuuuutube!: standing still live, holding me back live

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 9 tracks, distributed by the band, released 2008]