About a month ago, I felt like I had officially been initiated into West Coast culture: I went to the Oregon Country Fair. Not that I hadn't already experienced the eccentricities of the Pacific Northwest before, especially walking the streets of Capitol Hill after late-night shows or strolling through the Saturday Market when visiting my family in Eugene. But the Oregon Country Fair was like the ultimate experience, the last weird straw. Never before had I seen so much body paint, fairy paraphernalia, and dirt (among other things) in one place, and it was great. It all worked.
Drink Up Buttercup's album Born and Thrown on a Hook could be the funky soundtrack to the whole funky fair.
Though Philly-born, this four piece band has a sound that fits the psychedelic scene of the Country Fair, where mimes loped on sky-high stilts and giant puppets loomed in colorful corners as far as the eye could see. NPR described Drink Up Buttercup as "a sinister carnival," and it suits them well. The complex and often crazy range of the band's music reminds me of a three-ring circus.
Born and Thrown on a Hook start off with the methodic drumming and plucky guitars-paired with tambourine claps and twangy vocals- a sound especially reminiscent of old country westerns on the disc's fourth track, "Doggy Head." But then things suddenly switch gears with "Young Ladies," where tinkled pianos and sweet croons dominate. Here, the band sounds more like a carnival-esque Dr. Dog. And there's more to come. We still have the accordion-saturated howls in "Gods and Gentlemen," and the jolly pop harmonies of "Pink Sunshine," to experience before the album is over. While it may be difficult to focus on any one of these musical rings, they all seem to work for this quirky band, and there's enough flow from song to song that you don't feel all confused and kind of cross-eyed by the end of it (does that happen to you at circuses, too?).
In all, Drink Up Buttercup is a band to experience, to allow your mind to wander and soak in the psychedelic sounds and sensations. Like watching mimes on stilts. With fairy wings.