Sons of Men

by Reubens Accomplice

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about

Reubens Accomplice

"Sons of Men"


It’s a tired old saw, but no less true for wear: you’ve heard of Reubens Accomplice, but you’ve probably never heard them.

Seems like I’ve spent most of my adult life spreading their gospel, trying to explain why the group is so great. Any failure in that regard is largely my own fault. But I will place some of the blame on the band.

See, Reubens Accomplice are a confounding bunch. As people and musicians, you never know quite what to expect. You’re just as likely to get a warm hug as a sharp tongue lashing. But that’s always been the dynamic guiding the band’s two singer-songwriters, Chris Corak and Jeff Bufano.

For nearly 20 years, these childhood friends have worked a musical double act. On the surface, they seem to be a study in contrasts: Corak as pop confectioner; Bufano as hard-bitten storyteller. But that’s a clever deception -- they write and sing in a uniquely intertwined style, shifting roles, and perspectives seamlessly. Hell, I’m still trying to figure out which one is yin and which is yang.

As you will no doubt glean from the geography of the songs, Reuben’s Accomplice are dustbillies, creatures of a desert wasteland to which escape is the only reasonable response. Yet the band has stuck it out under the proverbial sun, turning the peculiar ennui of their environment into a searching art of the highest order.

The music? Well, you could say it’s an aural homebrew that was probably never meant for mass consumption.

Yes, Reubens write love songs; but love songs as moral explorations. They write pop songs; pop songs that quiver with quiet desolation. I’d hesitate to call what they do rock ‘n’ roll; they’ve always had more brains than brawn. Often, the music sidewinds into country, or explodes into grand orchestral expressions.

Take, for example, album opener “Field Science” a lilting fingerpicked folk song that turns into a widescreen epic. Or “This Desert” an irresistible mingling of barbed wit and buzzing pop. Somehow, Reubens mingles tragic content and joyful noise to magical effect, whether on the dusky evocation of “Women” or the desperate “I Love You But I’m Tired” -- a song so melodic even its choruses have choruses.

The band’s sound isn’t built solely on Corak and Bufano’s brotherhood, but on a rare alchemy that extends to the group’s other members. To simply call John O’Reilly a drummer would be a disservice; his percussion is a form of fluid composition, redrawing the parameters of the songs as he plays. And while Ryan Kennedy fits the description of a multi-instrumentalist, he’s more a sonic artisan, helping paint every one of these little masterpieces.

Reubens’ records have always been stocked with melodic gems, now they’re filled complex anthems layered with meaning and potent. Lyrics go off like tiny explosions in your brain: “Too many bent lines here. I really should be on my way now” This is the sound of teenage melancholy grown up. Fresh-faced hope roughened into blasted beauty.

The songs here are pretty and funny, sad and scathing, caustic and carefree. Canny juxtapositions all down the line. Like I say, hugs and tongue lashings. That’s Sons of Man.

Two decades on, Reubens Accomplice sound remarkably vital, like a band that’s just made its first record. And, also, a band that’s made its best record. And maybe its last record.

Whether it’s today, tomorrow, or some point off in the distance, here’s hoping you finally do get to hear them. – Bob Mehr, July 2012

credits

released August 7, 2012

Side A

"Field Science"

Jeff Bufano – guitar, vocals
Chris Corak – vocals, guitar
Ryan Kennedy – bass, harmonium, bells, whistling
John O’Reilly Jr. – drums, percussion
Robin Vining – accordian
Chris Testa – piano, percussion


“This Desert"

Jeff Bufano – vocals, guitar, keys
Chris Corak – guitar, vocals
Ryan Kennedy – bass, piano
John O’Reilly Jr. – drums, autoharp, bells, percussion


“I Love You, but I’m Tired"

Jeff Bufano – vocals, guitar
Chris Corak – guitar, vocals
Ryan Kennedy – bass, piano, banjo
John O’Reilly Jr. – drums, drum machine, keys
Davey von Bohlen – vocals
Chris Testa – percussion

“I’m Leaving”

Jeff Bufano – distorted bass
Chris Corak – vocals
Ryan Kennedy – bass
John O’Reilly Jr. – drums
Daniel Clarke – piano
Amy Ross – vocals
Jon Rauhouse – pedal steel
*Orchestra – 8 piece string section
String arrangement by Chris Westlake

“The Losing Curse"

Jeff Bufano – guitar
Chris Corak – vocals, Guitar
Ryan Kennedy – bass
John O’Reilly Jr. – drums, theremin
Amy Ross – vocals
Chris Testa – bells
*Orchestra – 13 piece orchestra
Orchestra arrangement by John O’Reilly Jr.


Side B

“Sons of Men"

Jeff Bufano – vocals, guitar, EBow, keys
Chris Corak – guitar, vocals, computer keyboard
Ryan Kennedy – piano, bells
John O’Reilly Jr. – percussion, keys
Jamal Ruhe – jump rope, wine glasses
Jon Rauhouse – pedal steel
Andy Rose – Rhodes, Moog, footsteps
Chris Testa – footsteps

“Memory Works”

Jeff Bufano – guitar, air organ, banjo, EBow
Chris Corak – vocals, guitar, organ
Ryan Kennedy – bass, Wurlitzer
John O’Reilly Jr. – drums, percussion, keys
Amy Ross – vocals
Matt Maher – piano
Jamal Ruhe – guitar
Matt Wiser – pedal steel
Carousel arrangement by John O’Reilly Jr.

“No Motion”

Jeff Bufano – vocals, guitar
Chris Corak – guitar, vocals
Ryan Kennedy – bass, Rhodes
John O’Reilly Jr. – drums, percussion
Matt Maher – keys
Jon Rauhouse – pedal steel
Robin Vining – vocals
Amy Ross – vocals
Andy Rose – organ, moog
Chris Testa – percussion, field recording

“Women”

Jeff Bufano – vocals, guitar
Chris Corak – guitar, vocals
Ryan Kennedy – bass, upright bass, piano, keys
John O’Reilly Jr. – drums, percussion
Jon Rauhouse – pedal steel
*Orchestra – 8 piece string section
String arrangement by Chris Westlake


“Less Pain Forever"

Jeff Bufano – guitar, vocals
Chris Corak – vocals, guitar
Ryan Kennedy – bass
John O’Reilly Jr. – drums, percussion, keys
Amy Ross - vocals
*Orchestra – woodwinds

*Orchestra:

Violins: Mark Robertson, Ashoka Thiagarajan, Songa Lee, Jen Heilig
Violas: Luke Maurer, Rodney Wirtz
Cellos: Victor Lawrence, Ginger Murphy
Clarinet: Phil O’Connor
Flute: Amy Tatm
Oboe: Rong-Huey Liu
Horn: Kristina Orcutt
Bassoon: Damian Montano
Musician Contractor: Mark Robertson
Conductor: Chris Westlake

Produced, engineered, and mixed by Chris Testa
Co-produced and engineered by Reubens Accomplice
Additional engineering by Aaron Wendt and Jamal Ruhe

Drums and bass recorded at Unit 2 in Tempe, AZ. Orchestra recorded at Firehouse Recording Studios in Pasadena, CA. Everything else recorded at the Kenneth Room and My House in Tempe, AZ.
Mastered at West West Side Music by Jamal Ruhe

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