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Back in 2020 I ran across Philadelphia band Buddie’s debut long-player Diving. Loved it! Put it on to the to-be-reviewed pile … Then 2022 nearly expired and a new Buddie release came out, an EP entitled Transplant. Hm, I still hadn’t reviewed the first album yet. Oh well, I’ll put them together in one big Buddie blowout, I thought. Now Buddie’s second album Agitator is here and no more excuses people, it’s time for a Buddie-polooza!

The essential element of Buddie is songwriter, singer, guitar player Daniel Forrest. He doesn’t do everything, collaborating with a host of people to create and play the songs, but he’s the constant in the band’s story, stretching back to their promising early single “Vivacious Crush” to a location shift from Philly to Vancouver, B.C. as home base. The early EP 2019’s Change of Scenery and LP 2020’s Diving lean into a nineties dissonant rock style, though I agree with I Don’t Hear a Single that there are Rush notes tucked in all over. For instance, “Selva” from Change of Scenery has got that Rush bustle of noise and energy. And yet like Weezer the drone is often leavened with a lightness, particularly the vocals on tracks like “In Aquamarine” from Diving. Personally I find “Seeker” that album’s stand out track with its rippling guitar lines and Shins-like vocal delivery. Things lighten up considerably on 2022’s EP Transplant. There’s still grungy rhythm guitar but it’s not the anchor here. “Take What’s Left” almost sounds like a totally different band. Yet what I think we’re hearing here is a band really coming into its own.

All this brings us to the Buddie’s new album Agitator. It’s a juggernaut of all the elements that marked out those earlier recordings as promising. There’s plenty of dissonant guitar and subtle melody, delivered with more confidence and command of the style the band is going for. Influence-wise, I hear a lot of Rogue Wave on this album, on tracks like “Class Warfare” and “We’ll Never Break,” as well as Weezer on “Game of Global Consequences” and “Worried.” Should-be hit single for me is “Way Up” with an intoxicating guitar riff that pulls you in like a gravity well, keeping you in its orbit. Other album highlights include “Move On” with its fist pumping declarative energy while “Ugly in the End” is the obverse, a dark truth-telling drone. The poppy delight of “Labyrinth” does offer a late album respite, though lyrically it’s a hard hitting as anything else on the album. Agitator should get you stirred up, its eleven tracks are perfect 90s dissonant melodic rock reinvented for the new millennium.

Looking for a new friend? Someone a bit moody, political, but with flashes of melodic bliss and fun? I’ve got a Buddie … and you can find them here.