The Buddz are a four-piece hard rock outfit from Tennessee that first took shape in Matt and Scott Smile’s garage in 2006. Their first gig was their high school talent show, and although they were only on stage for a few minutes, they were hooked. After that, they started playing locally wherever they could, which then progressed to competing in different battles of the bands all over the east coast. They won Big Mamas Battle of the Bands in 2008 and took home the grand prize of recording an album for free, which they did in just three days. Within three shows of release, the self-titled album had completely sold out.
Fast forward ten years and with over 1.2 million YouTube views of the video for ‘Bring Me Down’, their single featuring Gabriel Garcia of Black Tide, the band toured the US with other American bands and on their own. The album ‘Burn Down’ was released on 20th April 2018 and was produced by grammy award winning rock musician/producer Dave Fortman, who has worked with hard-hitters like Godsmack, Simple Plan, Evanescence, Slipknot and Mudvaine.
Title track ‘Burn Down’ makes me smile from the off, with its pulsating bass and pounding drums. It has an insanely catchy hook, screaming guitar riffs and brilliant vocal harmonising. The dual guitars sound fantastic too and it’s impossible not to bang my head along. ‘Better’ is about someone trying to convince themselves that they are better off with a new partner, “If you're not thinking about me, Why’d you come around? To say you’ve done better, you say you’ve done better than me. You think if it’s said enough when you talk him up, you’ll make yourself believe, that you have done better”. Like the first song, it’s got a sing-a-long chorus, great vocal harmonies, I especially like the drum fills on this track.
The acoustic guitar at the beginning of ‘Home Is On My Mind’ is gorgeous and the Smile brothers have beautiful voices that are well suited to this ballad. I found a clip of the band performing this live on YouTube, and was surprised to see that it was Matt rather than Scott who was singing the verses. ‘Crazy’ ramps up the tempo again, which continues with ‘Monster’, both songs sounding to me like they would be great crowd pleasers. “I’m getting sick…of all your shit, and I think it’s time I kicked you to the kerb”, are the opening couple of lines from ‘Bring Me Down’. I think we can all relate to this song in one way or another! It’s got an incessant thwacking beat from drummer Brandon Paykamian, big vocal harmonies in the chorus, plenty of blistering guitar riffs and fuzzy bass, it’s one of my favourite tracks on the album.
‘Wrong’ is an unexpected gem. Having a second ballad on a rock album is usually something I would be complaining about, but in this case it completely works. Aside from the Smile brothers, Paykamian on drums and Nate Kennedy on bass also lend their vocal talents, and when all four vocals are melded together, the results are heavenly. These guys can really sing. ‘In Your Head’ starts with a sleazy beat from the rhythm section that continues throughout the song, which just a brilliantly crafted rock tune. It has a really groovy edge to it and is one of the heavier tracks on the album, as is ‘Ticket To My Grave’, which has some really heavy riffs and chuggy bass lines as well as crashing cymbals, thundering drums and those great melodious vocals. Closer ‘Let It Die’ is breathtakingly simple and perfectly showcases those stunning vocals.
‘Burn Down’ is an album packed to the rafters with songs that feel like old friends from the very first listen. There is something comforting about them, they feel like your favourite pair of jeans, you know the ones…you have four pairs but there’s something about these, they’re the ones you pick above all others, they just fit that bit better and feel so much more comfortable than the rest. After listening just once, I had these songs stuck in my head. After listening a few times, I have favourite tracks that jostle for attention, each one crying “pick me!”, when it is played, as I realise that perhaps they are all my favourites! The Buddz have produced a mighty fine album in ‘Burn Down’, and I reckon it’s definitely worth a listen.
‘Burn Down’ track listing:-
Home Is On My Mind
Bring Me Down
In Your Head
Ticket To My Grave
Let It Die
Scott Smile - Lead vocals & rhythm guitar
Matt Smile - Lead guitar & vocals
Brandon Paykamian - Drums & vocals
Nate Kennedy - Bass & vocals
Find out more about The Buddz here:-