Out of the Tobacco Road region of NC, hotbed of indie rock music, come eight new tracks from Bustello. Bustello features Ben Clarke (of the critically acclaimed Metal Flake Mother) on guitar and vocals. After a 15-year hiatus, Ben has unleashed a bounty of great new material — these eight songs are just a sample of things to come. The trio is rounded out by bass player John Plymale (former Sex Police frontman, music producer) and drummer Jody Maxwell (also of the Sex Police). Bustello musically picks up where Metal Flake Mother left off, blending Ben’s distinctive vocals and guitar with John’s dynamic bass presence and Jody’s incisive rhythms.
CD review from the Independent Weekly:
Given the pedigree, it's hardly surprising that Bustello's eight-song debut EP is this catchy and sharply written. Frontman Ben Clarke led early-'90s outfit Metal Flake Mother, which released music on Mammoth Records. Bassist and producer John Plymale played with local icons Sex Police and The Pressure Boys before becoming a popular local studio man with Superchunk, Squirrel Nut Zippers and Tift Merritt.
Clarke's baritone croon lingers like smoke blown by the music's shimmy and sway here, echoing the shapely, summery warmth of Britpop acts like Blur and Pulp. The insistent mid-tempo hooks counterbalance any frothy undercurrent, with bursts of spiky guitar that recall the churn of Polvo. The resulting tension conceives a sound that's amenable but not necessarily easy—you can take it home, but you'd best not put Barry White on when you come through the door.
While the songs are relatively brief (half barely top 2:30, and nothing lasts longer than 3:30), Clarke still leads his six-string through an exciting variety of paces, eschewing the typical repeated riff gallop. It gives the songs more staying power, if perhaps making them less immediate. Thanks in large part to that guitar approach, each track establishes its own identity. The most personable include the terrific, rockabilly-inflected "Flavorful Love" and pulsing opener, "No Right of Mine," which may be the most irrepressibly catchy number here, thanks to a great choral melody. The album-closing ballad, "In the Void," sounds something like The Replacements trying their hand at Britpop, swollen, textured rock plated by a bit of country swagger.
Bustello often sounds familiar yet never entirely derivative, and they're infectious without pandering. This debut might not feature songs you immediately rewind, but like a bad cold, these tunes keep returning.
CD review from The Daily News:
Alternative rock outfit Metal Flake Mother didn’t last long-their lone full-length “Beyond the Java Sea” dropped in 1991-but the North Carolina-based band’s influence still lingers. After a 15-year hiatus, a new band, Bustello, and their self-titled debut EP represents a welcome return for the talented singer/songwriter.
Clarke’s baritone sounds as good as ever and Bustello shine on songs like “No Right of Mine” “Down South” “Playground” and “Flavorful Love.” I’m anxious to see what they can do over the course of a full album.
CD review from Blurt magazine:
Bustello presents eight jagged, jangly pop tunes from Clarke's pen, rattling with hooks and sharp arrangements. "Ocean," "No Right of Mine" and the almost-ballad "Heaven" don't mess around, saying what they have to say as efficiently as possible and getting out. But you won't feel cheated - nearly every track is a fully developed, finely crafted nugget of pop gold.