Eight Year Alibi (2005, NoStrings)

Upon clicking on Bukana’s website one is greeted with the band either sincerely or sarcstically proclaiming itself ‘the most reclusive band in Scottish pop history’. Well this may very well be true. Before embarking on a review I tend to snoop about Googling for band info, blurbs and even previous reviews of the album if I’m stumped and need a little nudging. Well, I found nothing but the band’s homesite, where I also discovered that Bukana has been together playing out as a unit for over 8 years but Eight Year Alibi happens to be their debut offering.

‘Will you know me when I’ve grown, will you know me when I’ve changed?’ pipes vocalist, Crilly, on the opener. I thought someone gave me the slip and replaced Bukana with a Moe. or Train CD. Hey, customs has been known to pull off far worse tomfoolery. Admittedly I was a little alarmed (and prepared for the worst) at this choice of introduction as it’s probably the least appealing track on the album but thankfully the band takes ‘new shape’ rather quickly.

The foot-stompin’ beat, harmonica and slide guitar inject a bit of variety into ‘What’s The Game?’. Also, at this point I began to realize the relevance of the band being together for so long before finally setting their efforts to tape – harmonies. The whole gang pretty much joins in on the fun here and it works wonders. ‘By The Time’ ripples with radio-ready hooks/chorus and a playful Cake-like guitar riff.

Several of the band members share boss vocal duties all throughout the album (as well as harmonize) but when bassist/keyspuncher, Russell Kostulin, parks his voice atop all – the band shines. Kostulin’s vocals are a dead ringer for (the equally-reclusive) Emmit Rhodes – now picture that filtered through a forgotten Ben Folds or Badly Drawn Boy track and you have a most delectable combination. ‘Baby In Blue’ and ‘Have A Holiday’ are both splendid, uplifting tunes in that vein while ‘These Times…’ lullabies the album to a close. Kostulin’s cool delivery adds a needed touch here – otherwise the album might have just become another alternative pop/rock effort with a few decent songs on it, thus falling out of my good graces.

Had you tried convincing me that Bukana were from Scotland before my knowing I’d probably mistake you for one of those wily customs pranksters. This is certainly something I would expect to come pouring forth from Collegetown, USA, hot on the heels of a successful new single on the local radio station. There are a few misses here but ultimately this is a strong debut with 3-4 great pop songs you can include on your next vacation mixtape.

mp3: Baby In Blue

-TheBeat 10/10/05

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