Guns & Butter Initial Reviews: “Is there a Grammy for kicking ass?”

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Bryan Reed of the Daily Tar Heel writes:

“It’s been said (too much probably) that you can never really go home. But cliched and pessimistic proverbs don’t stand in the way of Bull City’s effort to craft a record that harks back to country-bred classic rock.

The result of that effort is the seven-track EP Guns & Butter. At times, the relatively new band lays the twang on a bit too heavy (”Ford Ranger All American”), but when the band hits its groove with a rootsy, retro, and most importantly, rocking variety of Americana rock ‘n’ roll, as on the guitar fueled “Game” or the poppy, jangly “Easy.”

Though relatively new as a band, Bull City is built on the talents of music veterans from acts including Dillon Fence and My Dear Ella. And flanked with additional support from the likes of Dan Bryk, Schooner’s Kathryn Johnson and Megan Culton, and Mark Paulson of Ticonderoga and Bowerbirds, Guns & Butter is a debut album from a seasoned band, one that generally knows what works. So when Bull City tries on a little rockabilly with “Sally,” it doesn’t feel forced, just unexpected.

The EP proves Bull City to be a band fully capable of producing solid rock music, one that is welcome into Durham’s increasingly relevant music community.

David Menconi of the Raleigh News & Observer suggests:

“This weekend has a trio of album-release shows from some of the area’s finest bands. Jim Brantley’s Bull City unveils “Guns & Butter” (Urban Myth Recordings), an album featuring veritable truckloads of killer guitars, tonight at Durham’s 305 South.”

Rich Ivey of the Independent opines:

“Like the sonically similar Wilco, Durham’s Bull City melds the pop cognizance of Alex Chilton, the face-peeling passion of Neil Young and the empirical studio slight-handedness of Jim O’Rourke. And while Ex-Ashley Stove and Bull City guitarist/vocalist Jim Brantley certainly wanders the same hook-laden turf as Jeff Tweedy, he isn’t emulating. Instead, Bull City’s first EP (barring an early CD-R), Guns & Butter, is a stunning execution of how rewarding Southern music can be when next-generation indie rockers gaze at the Archers and Allmans with equal admiration.

Over seven tracks, Guns & Butter tastefully twists styles through Brantley’s cultured songwriting and penchant for harmonies and licks. The band ebbs between swaggering hard rock, country-fried pop and delicately orchestrated arrangements, only falling short for five of the EP’s 30 minutes. Goofy saloon stomp ballad “Sally” breaks its forming momentum, but upbeat tracks like “Game,” “Everything Falls Apart” and “Knock It Down” soar with fine hooks and standout instrumentation. Bandmates Lance Westerlund, John Kurtz and Scott Carle prove essential. Slower tracks “Easy” and “Runnin'” are both lyrically and musically mature, offering some of the EP’s strongest and most dynamic moments. Ass-kicking opener “Ford Ranger All American” includes the line “I’ve got a double-barrel in my doublewide/ It ain’t about livin’ on cinderblocks, it’s ’bout American pride.” Is there a Grammy for kicking ass?

Guns & Butter is too good not to transform Bull City from another local ex-member band into a crucial part of the Triangle’s music scene. It’s not a stellar local debut. It’s a stellar release.”

Bull City plays their CD release tomorrow, Friday, May 18, at 9 p.m. at 305 South, with a solo set by The Old Ceremony’s Django Haskins and Charlotte’s The Sammies

More Bull City shows:

Sunday, June 3 (at 3:00 PM)
Blue Bayou Club
in Hillsborough, NC

Saturday, June 9 (at 10 AM)
Durham Farmers’ Market
in Durham, NC

Sunday, June 10 (at 6 PM)
Sadlack’s
in Raleigh, NC

Saturday, June 16
Volume 11
for Twisted Pistons Cancer Charity Benefit
in Raleigh, NC

Friday, June 22
Visulite Theatre
in Charlotte, NC
for NMX – Morisen Records Showcase

Saturday, July 14 (at 10 AM)
Durham Farmers’ Market
in Durham, NC

Saturday, August 25 (at 10 AM)
Durham Farmers’ Market
in Durham, NC
Clickable venue links are at Bull City’s website

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