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Buck Baran | Poke!

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Pop: Beatles-pop Rock: Adult Alternative Pop/Rock Moods: Mood: Upbeat
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by Buck Baran

Eccentric melodic alternative pop rock.
Genre: Pop: Beatles-pop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Dig This Music
4:28 $0.69
2. Nothing I Can Do About It
4:37 $0.69
3. It's Called Love
4:18 $0.69
4. Paybacks (Are a Bitch)
5:38 $0.69
5. Leave Behind the Blues
4:24 $0.69
6. (Gotta Give A) Poke
4:48 $0.69
7. In Your Mind
4:44 $0.69
8. Giddyup (One More Time)
4:40 $0.69
9. It's Saturday (And We Party Tonight)
6:07 $0.69
10. This Town (Is Not About Your Town)
4:53 $0.69
11. Don't Tear My Sky Apart
5:08 $0.69
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Undergoing eye surgery, Buck felt as if he was poked in the eyes; hence the wrap-around sun glasses. And through the semi-darkness he envisioned eleven quirky rock tunes.



to write a review

Alex Henderson and Heath Andrews; Ariel Publicity

Brings the hooks and the grooves
Alex Henderson - If an artist is going to make a point of being eccentric, there are different ways to go about it. Some eccentrics could care less about being accessible; they do whatever they please, and if listeners don’t get it, that’s their problem. Other eccentrics, however, prefer to reach out to listeners and bring them along for the ride; singer Buck Baran’s second album, Poke!, demonstrates that he is that type of eccentric. Poke!, which is Baran’s follow-up to his 2011 debut, Just Another Hole, has plenty of goofiness and oddball humor. But Baran, in his own off-center way, can be quite infectious; he brings the strangeness on this early 2012 release, but he also brings the hooks and the grooves.

Poke! is melodic alternative pop-rock with elements of new wave and punk as well as an awareness of 1950s and early to mid-1960s rock & roll. Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, quite a few punk and new wave artists were being influenced by early rock & roll; so it makes sense that someone with a fondness for new wave would also have a fondness for 1950s and early to mid-1960s rock & roll. Buck’s direct or indirect influences range from Devo, the Talking Heads, the B-52s and Oingo Boingo to Frank Zappa and David Bowie. As a singer, Baran sounds a bit like former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra. But stylistically, Poke! is a lot different from the Dead Kennedys. Poke! isn’t hardcore punk; it is punk-influenced, but it isn’t hardcore punk. And while the Dead Kennedys are known for being a very angry, confrontational, in-your-face band (both during their Biafra days and after Biafra’s departure), Baran is funny and unthreatening. Nerdy humor is one of Baran’s trademarks, and he brings plenty of it to hooky offerings such as “Giddyup (One More Time),” “Dig This Music,” “It’s Saturday (And We Party Tonight),” “Leave Behind the Blues” and Poke!’s title song. Baran can be quite self-indulgent, but not in an exclusionary or elitist way; he wants his audience to be in the joke and enjoy it with him.

As much nutty fun as Baran has on Poke!, he gets in some serious messages as well (albeit in a decidedly quirky way). “This Town” (not to be confused with the early 1980s song by the Go-Go’s) describes a city’s decline, and “Don’t Tear My Sky Apart” (which is easily the most biting song on the album) attacks a ruthless politician/businessman who believes in “waving the flag, saying ‘in God we trust.’” Baran tells the politician/businessman, “Darth Vader, go away. This planet belongs to us.” And that Darth Vader reference might lead some listeners to believe that the politician/businessman Baran is criticizing is former vice president Dick Cheney, whose critics compared him to the Darth Vader character in the hit 1977 sci-fi movie “Star Wars.”

“It’s Called Love” has a memorable hook that simultaneously draws on 1980s new wave and 1960s AM radio top 40. Baran does a lot of name-dropping on that track, mentioning Jackie De Shannon and the Beatles as well as Nat King Cole, and that name-dropping helps the song achieve the old-school appeal that Baran is going for.

There are hints of 1980s hard rock on “Paybacks (Are a Bitch)” and “Nothing I Can Do About It,” which are among this album’s edgiest tracks. But “Paybacks (Are a Bitch)” and “Nothing I Can Do About It” are edgy in an ironic way, and Baran is offering a parody of 1980s hard rock rather than genuinely expressing that macho 1980s hard rock attitude. Plus, the fact that “Paybacks (Are a Bitch)” and “Nothing I Can Do About It” employ new wave elements along with the hard rock elements only adds to the irony that Baran is going for on those tunes.

Baran has plenty of fun on Poke!, and listeners who can appreciate a big dose of eccentricity are likely to have some fun as well.

Heath Andrews - The one thing that’s very clear about Buck Baran’s 2012 release, Poke! is how it draws influence from blues-rock. Between some of the chugging bass lines and exciting harmonica playing are some solid rocking melodies that can set your toe to tapping.

The instrumental duties are shared between Baran and his guitars, keyboards, and programmed instruments, Lenny Magnifico with his bass, and Yendor Koztips on the harmonica.

Some of the arrangements are quite well done, thanks to the harmonica and bass playing. “Leave Behind The Blues” kicks off with a great combination of these two instruments, forming a strong rhythm and melody. “Payback’s…” is also fairly compelling in how it manages to go from a smoother, laid-back groove into a harder rocking piece with a natural sounding transition.