Mikey Vukovich (bass/vocals), Sean Steele (guitar/vocals), Kimberly Manning (keyboards/ vocals), and (on the recording) Drew Austin (drums/percussion) are Zuffalo. Your first question might be well what is Zuffalo. I did myself so I did a two-minute Google research and found zilch, nothing, nada. It seems to be a made up word.
Regardless of what their name means the band's self-titled album Zuffalo is quite exceptional. The album was recorded live off the floor in a barn in Ontario and sounds great from the production to the performances. There is a distinct sound that has its foundation in the late ’60s and ’70s. Bands as far ranging as Sly and the Family Stone and Allman Brothers Band come to mind. The band can play their asses off. The performance feesl effortless and sounds like a band in a room playing together which is becoming less and less frequent.
Things get going with “Any Given Speed.” You could make some comparison to early recordings of The Beatles with some ’70s swagger. The organ, bass, guitar and drums are all on point. There are some splendid moments such as a “Twist and Shout” style breakdown that leads in a totally justified guitar solo. Great opener.
“Ocean Blue” is a little more badass ’70s style easy rider type energy. If I owned a motorcycle and thought it was even moderately safe I would definitely ride to this song. “Makin' Good Time” takes a splash of ’50s pop and melds them with Beach Boys style vocal harmonies.
“Keep Groovin' Down” could be a B-side from The Grateful Dead. “I See My Future” is just so good. They dabble with ’70s prog in the spirit of a band like Yes and then seamlessly blend into atmospheric verse that has similar aesthetic to the song “Fly Like an Eagle.”
“Saskatchewan” is full on ’70s with what sounds like an improvised jam session while “Loose Cannon” seems to have a vocalist who conjures the spirit of Janis Joplin. “Lately” is soft and smooth and will be one for fans of The Steve Miller band while “You Didn't Tell Me” is a gospel inspired song that is fast and sees the band going out in epic fashion.
The album is really derivative but when the music is this well done it really doesn't matter. They do a great job paying homage to legends while carving out their own slice of the pie as well. Highly recommended.
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