Mark Lush, Midwestbands.com
Filthy grooves. Freakish songforms. Unabashed virtuosity.
Musicianship – 10 out of 10
Check out this description of the music of Buddha’s Belly: ‘Filthy grooves. Freakish songforms. Unabashed virtuosity. Combining influences and studies in jazz, rock, classical, and world music, Buddha’s Belly creates a unique form of entertainment: Crime Jazz.’ What a cool and fitting description!
Buddha’s Belly is one of the newer bands to join MWB, and they are a fine addition! I’ve heard a lot of jam bands, and enjoyed a few evenings reveling while the band played on, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a jam band as talented and diverse as these guys! I love the work of the band’s instrumentalists as they play smart, interesting tunes that are creatively executed, but not preposterously long. I especially like the interaction between guitarist Dan Golden and Tenor Sax man Evan Cobb. These guys play well together, and seem to have that ‘sixth sense’ that musicians get when they play together for a long time. This ability allows them to know what direction the groove is headed at all times! For a jam band, this ability is a great asset! Underneath it all, bassist Pete Wojtowicz and drummer Jason Hanggi create a solid groove that is both solid and fluid. They are both skilled at ‘playing in the pocket’, but aren’t afraid to step outside of it every once in awhile to experiment and create riffs of their own. Honestly, I enjoyed hearing this band so much that I listened to the CD twice in a row on my way to work one evening, and then listened to it again on the ride home! Buddha’s Belly is my new favorite band!
Songwriting – 9.5 out of 10
I know that I’m going to get head scratches on the slightly lower score for songwriting. The only reason for that is the fact that I wasn’t as impressed by the band’s lyrics as I was by their ability to craft a tasty tune. The lyrics weren’t horrible or anything, but they weren’t of the same caliber as their musical chops!
As far as the musical arrangements go, the songs on The Governator score perfect 10’s! I am rarely this impressed with the skill and savvy of a group of musicians! To be sure, these guys have written tunes that are captivating!
Sound Quality/Professionalism - 10 out of 10
There was no doubt that I would give a perfect score in this category! The sound quality is incredible on The Governator! I haven’t heard a sax solo that I enjoyed this much in years, especially a tenor sax! The sound achieved by Evan Cobb’s is truly flawless. The producers/engineers/mixdown guys did an awesome job of creating an album with great dynamics, great presence, and very true-to-life sound! I can’t wait to see these guys live! I would imagine that they lay down a killer sound onstage as well!
Packaging - 8 out of 10
Choosing the path that made sense for them, Buddha’s Belly went with a full color sleeve for their EP, instead of a jewel case and insert. I gripe all the time about not having lyrics and extensive liner notes, but in this case, the packaging that they chose is just right. The photography on the cover is good, and all of the pertinent musical credit/production info is on the back! Functional, compact and lightweight, this packaging is perfect for bands on the go!
Favorite Tracks (in ranked order)
Trance for Sir Fancy Pants
Overall Rating – 9.5 out of 10
I’m noticing a funny trait in my reviews: when I dislike a CD, my review is usually long! By contrast, when I really like the CD, the review tends to be shorter! Does that mean that I’m a real-life music critic now?
Though I didn’t use many words, I must say that I am thrilled with The Governator, the latest album from Chicago Crime Jazz band Buddha’s Belly! I definitely recommend that you make your way to the band’s website soon and get your very own copy of the record! While you’re there, order everything else that is available, because I know you’re going to want to hear their full anthology eventually!
Seriously, it’s not often that you’ll hear a band that is as talented as Buddha’s Belly. They are skilled musicians with beginnings in the frat houses and college pubs around Northwestern, who have now graduated to playing premiere venues all over North America! They are hard working musicians that deserve every ounce of praise, liquor and door money that they can collect in their travels! Well done, guys! Keep up the good work!—Mark Lush, Midwestbands.com, 11/6/04