Where The Buffalo Roamed, a four-piece spread between the Triangle and Asheville, is in many ways another splash in an already overflowing well of regional garage rock. Its recordings are of the low-fidelity sort, and its sound is rough—more earnest than polished, more shambling than shuffling. But like many of the genre's best, Where The Buffalo Roamed turns such critiques into calling cards on its debut, A Wolf in the Works. The lo-fi recording and unrefined sincerity afford a charm that grows and grows. Frontman Corbie Hill (of instrumentalists The Battle Rockets) lets his vocal tumble out in a way that at first seems careless but actually evinces some sort of bleary-eyed conviction. When he sings, "Sun is shining all the time" on "Isolation," for instance, he sounds as if, after another hard day's night, he's convincing himself that there really is something vibrant out there in the world.
Perhaps the most interesting element of contemporary garage rock is its ability to sound stubborn and primitive, even as it cherry-picks sounds from any number of its brethren or progeny—R&B, punk, psychedelia, surf, country, folk and blues being some of its more frequent reference points.
And so, throughout A Wolf In The Works, ringing post-rock guitar tones often meet ragged blues and ambling indie folk. On "Southport," the band turns a scuzzy post-rock practice session into a delirious stagger. "1980" pastes a surf rock drumroll to drowsy chords, like Sebadoh on a wild trip.
There are few moments of bombast here and even fewer frills in the music's arrangement, but after repeated plays it becomes clear how much the record embodies its genre's voracious appetite for incorporating and digesting new sounds in big, mean bites. The excitement isn't in the fuzzy guitars or shrugged melodies, then; it's in the little tidbits of recognition that come from late-night spins.
Where the Buffalo Roamed releases A Wolf in the Works Thursday, Jan. 21, at 10 p.m. at The Reservoir. IRATA and Gray Young open the free show.