Are You Electrified???

Are You Electrified???
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REVIEW : Arthur Buck - Americana UK

Spontaneous project produces album for the completists
6 / 10

Arthur Buck is the coming together of erstwhile REM guitarist Peter Buck and singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur. There was a time back in the 1980s when Buck was knocking on the door of rock royalty. Since the demise of REM he’s been knocking around more generally – working with Mark Eitzel, being part of The Minus and The Filthy Friends, as well as producing his own solo material to mention just a few; he is a man much in demand.

This latest venture, we are told, came from an encounter with his old friend Joseph Arthur when the latter returned to Mexico to pick up a guitar he left after playing a festival. It just so happens it was Buck’s festival and Buck was in town when Arthur went for his guitar…. The two jammed and improvised eight songs in eight hours which they performed publicly just three days later. Not long after, New West Records signed the duo to record an album. The result sounds like two people just seeing where their respective inputs takes them. It sounds uninhibited, quirky and original and with a fresh feel of spontaneity, maybe because Buck notes that when the duo jammed the songs they actually wrote nothing down! No doubt this left room for a few tweaks and fills different from the first incarnation of the tunes.

So what can the avid Americana fan expect? Certainly, the record hovers on the edges of the music usually reviewed on this site. But who can resist when a Dobro wielding muso invites you in to listen to their progeny? And it is certainly not that the record is not rewarding; but it is reminiscent of when Clapton’s ‘Another Ticket’ was reviewed in the music press way back in 1980 under the heading ‘Give us a (lead) break’. Us mere mortals who listen to, rather than make music, respect the need for artists to explore their muse; but so often what we really want is what we love them for. In the case of ‘Another Ticket,’ there was some lovely laid-back bluesy lead, but another ‘Layla’ there was not. And so with this record – underpinning tracks like ‘Are You Electrified’ and ‘Forever Waiting’ is some acoustic guitar which, if you did not know, you might say ‘That sounds a bit like REM’. And there is the rub – the ear is drawn to the ‘A bit like REM’ references – and you cannot help but feel how good it would have been to have one or two tracks that really let that jangly, chiming arpeggio sound rip. And yes – preferably played on a Rickenbacker and not an acoustic!

Ah well, drop the nostalgia and there is some interesting work here – it would be hard to have a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter (Arthur) and a guitarist of Buck’s brilliance and not be worth repeated listens. This is certainly not all about Buck; Arthur’s influence is there with percussive loops and electronic blips adding to a novel musical canvas. On the other hand, maybe it was the speed of writing-performing- recording that also meant that they did not recruit a drummer. Nonetheless, the song-writing is off-centre in such a way that ‘America Century,’ for example, conjures up the ghost of Bowie in its structure.

Ultimately, the record is a bit like anticipating a Raconteurs record and getting a Brendon Benson solo album. That is to say, it’s good, but after being invited in by that Dobro wielding muso we are more likely to respond with polite, if enthusiastic, applause rather than an emotional shout of “Yeah, that’s what I am talking about.” Arthur Buck are clearly enjoying themselves, it’s just that they left the door ajar for the rest of us rather than throwing it open with a big hearty welcome. Add it to your collection for completeness rather than necessity.


2018 Gigography

Here is the list of concerts by Joseph Arthur in 2018 :

2018-01-01 City Winery, New York, NY USA
2018-01-15 City Winyard, New York, NY USA
2018-01-25 Suicide Sally, A Tribute to Suicide & Alan Vega, Bowery Electric, New York, NY USA
2018-02-09 City Vineyard, New York, NY USA
2018-02-10 Live @ Drew's, Ringwood, NJ USA
2018-02-23 City Vineyard, New York, NY USA
2018-02-24 Live @ Drew's, Ringwood, NJ USA
2018-03-06 The Music of Led Zeppelin Rehearsal, City Winery, New York, NY USA
2018-03-07 The Music of Led Zeppelin, Carnegie Hall, New York, NY USA
2018-05-30 The Bowery Electric, New York, NY USA
2018-06-21 Arthur Buck - Q104.3's Out of the Box, New York, NY USA

2018-08-25 Gates of the West, Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY USA
2018-09-07 Arthur Buck - KEXP, Seattle, WA USA
2018-09-07 Arthur Buck - The Crocodile, Seattle, WA USA
2018-09-08 Arthur Buck - Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR USA
2018-09-10 Arthur Buck - The Independent, San Francisco, CA USA
2018-09-11 Arthur Buck - Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles, CA USA
2018-09-13 Arthur Buck - 40 Watt Club, Athens, GA USA
2018-09-15 Arthur Buck - Music Midtown Festival, Piedmont Park, Atlanta USA
2018-09-16 Arthur Buck - The Basement East, Nashville, TN USA
2018-09-18 Arthur Buck - World Café Live, Philadelphia, PA USA
2018-09-19 Arthur Buck - Fenway Recordings, Boston, MA USA
2018-09-19 Arthur Buck - Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA USA
2018-09-20 Arthur Buck - Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY USA
2018-09-21 Arthur Buck - Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington, DC USA
2018-09-23 Arthur Buck - Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL USA
2018-09-24 Arthur Buck - 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis, MN USA

to be continued...

If you own an audio / video recording of an "unavailable" concert, thank you kindly send me an email to

UPDATED 2018-07-18


Lost Songs

last update : 2018-07-12

From the most recent to the oldest, here are all the "lost songs" Joseph sows on his official website, on social media or at concerts.

And sometimes, they find their way by appearing on studio albums.

Rock Love
Walking in Kosovo 
Midnight Dirt 
People Were Dying 
Outside Your Window 

You can find the lyrics of some of these songs and informations at

Some songs are missing :

"Outside Your Window" is a very rare song that appears to be exclusive to the Songs For the New Album CD. This song has yet to find its way onto traders lists and is therefore practically unavailable.

"People Were Dying" was performed at Hoboken on 15 July 2004. No recording known to exist.

"Midnight Dirt" is a song mentionned by JA on a 2008 video interview for He played a little bit of it and showed the lyrics but there's still no known recording.

"Popcorn" is a spoken song that Joseph made up and played live for the first time at the Stronghold, Venice, CA on 2 April 2010.

"Walking In Kosovo" is a song played live with Kraig Jarret Johnson, Scott McCaughey (keys) & Linda Pitmon in Mexico on January 2013.

"I Won't Call" is a unreleased song from the 2nd RNDM Record. Richard Stuverud was hoping it would have been included on the release. "Someday the light will shine on it."

"Rock Love" is a song created the day of the Woodstock Session (2016-07-30).

"Gaslitkid", "Pigeons", "Stop", "Miracle Ride" and "Shake It Off" are songs created with Paul Cantelon on July 2017 for the Project Torture Chamber VJJ. Some snippets of these songs were posted on the JA's Instagram.


REVIEW : Arthur Buck - PopMatters

Joseph Arthur and Peter Buck Face the World Staring Straight Forward on 'Arthur Buck'

ED WHITELOCK 09 Jul 2018


Peter Buck's generosity and willingness to gig with just about anyone anywhere is legendary and has long been the subject of lighthearted humor (as in "Last Thursday, Pete Buck sat in with the Decemberists at the Tin Dog Festival before jumping over to the other side of town to guest onstage with Billy Bragg at a farm to table co-op fundraiser, but all that happened after he had dropped in unexpectedly on Miss Higginbottom's chorus recital at the Woodrow Wilson Middle School for an impromptu version of 'Waiting for the Man'."). If you find that joke funny, you've been a fan for a while; if you find it believable, you've probably seen Buck jump onstage somewhere for an unexpected sit in. Arthur Buck couldn't exist if there wasn't some small grain of truth to the joke and is the result of some previous collaborations, coincidence, and just plain good timing.

Joseph Arthur, an equally inexhaustible performer who has gained a strong following based on his exhilarating live shows and heavy touring schedule, has released 14 albums since catching the attention of Peter Gabriel and being signed to his Real World label in 1997. It would seem an inevitability that Arthur and Buck would cross paths and find mutual regard and that is pretty much what has happened over the years, as Arthur opened for R.E.M. on multiple occasions and they memorably performed "Walk on the Wild Side" along with Mike Mills on the David Letterman Show in support of Arthur's tribute album Lou. On this go-round, Arthur's performance at Buck's annual Los Todos Santos Music Festival along with a forgotten dobro guitar initiated a spontaneous creative partnership and high-speed recording session. The result is an excellent summertime garage-pop record with an edge.

A theme of displacement threads through these dark pop songs reflecting the uncertainty of the present times. The song's subjects are perpetually searching for some missing component of their lives or the world at large. As in the wonderful, seductive album opener, "I Am the Moment", where we encounter a call to action disguised as a typical romantic come on of a pop song: "I'll give you a hand," Arthur sings, "You're not wrong to always want to expand / Or to find a kind of spiritual plan / To go beyond space and time and escape this predicament." The chorus of "I am the moment waiting for you" is an invitation to seize the moment and take action. There are numerous such calls and declarations throughout Arthur Buck. The Nine Inch Nails-inspired "If You Wake Up in Time" features Arthur berating the listener that "you're wrong about everything you wanted", while Buck's discomfiting growl of "save your life... if you wake up in time" offers a slap-in-the-face chorus.

These are songs written at a time of the political blurring into the personal, of broad social disruption bleeding into personal spiritual crisis. The Mexicali-inflected "Forever Waiting" mingles its uplift with lines like "Don't you know your gods are changing? / You don't have anyone at all." The brief, unsettling "Summertime" consists of two simple, repeated lines: "Everybody likes to think they're holding on/ And yet they're running out of chances." "American Century" encapsulates our cultural greed by evoking John F. Kennedy's most famous lines: "Used to be about what you can do / Now it's about what you can get." And "Forever Falling", one of the album's numerous high points, confronts our collective dark mood when Arthur sings "I love the way you lost / Because I love the way you run." Recorded before the high-profile suicides of Kate Nash and Antony Bourdain, the song nonetheless addresses the increasingly infectious disease of depression with the lines "I don't even want to act like everything is fine / Every morning I just thank the Lord that I'm still alive." This is a love song for broken people who still have pieces left to build upon (and we all do, no matter how broken).

This is not, though, a downer of a record. Quite the opposite: throughout, the music on Arthur Buck is upbeat and eclectic, even playful, offering a contrast to the lyrics. One might say that Arthur and Buck's spirited playing and programming make the medicine go down smoother. If one lyrical consistency is anxiety, another is perseverance and finding joy in existence. Album closer "Can't Make It Without You" might be the album's greatest track, an uplifting appreciation of partnership and commitment, of facing the world staring straight forward while in the company of a great friend or lover. The regard Arthur and Buck clearly have for each other shows through on every track of this unexpected pleasure.

Rating: 7 / 10