There’s a certain satisfaction that comes with listening to the first studio album by the burgeoning, Austin-based blue/Americana/rock band Bugaboo.
Crafted by Clayton Colvin, Douglas Jay Boyd and Chad Pope, the album is a strong exercise in thematic cohesion while also functioning as a declaration of arrival. “Asteria” (named after the Greek goddess) is an aural snapshot of a band with something to prove, conjuring up universal emotions and putting their own crunchy, bluesy spin on them. The album rumbles along at a strong clip, evolving right in your ear from the crunchy, raw introduction of “Witchy Woman” to the slower, more wistful, mid-album road trip track “NOLA Bean” to laid back lamentations of “What’s the Use” that closes things out.
It’s veritable road map of a passionate but troubled relationship, tracking from the blinded attraction to the longing and hopefulness to the apathy and frustration when it’s all fallen apart.
There won’t be anything necessarily surprising found within the album’s nine tracks, but that’s OK. This is a chance for three seasoned musicians to find their voice together and show what they’re capable of.
“One of the things that was a little disputed, but what we agreed on was that we wanted this to keep this true to what our live sound is,” Boyd said. So while we do have visions for bigger arrangements and different instrumentation and more ideas as far as vocals and making a broader soundscape, we (didn’t want the album to be) something we couldn’t reproduce live.”
That faithfulness to their live sound was imperative after their first album wasn’t, they felt, representative of what they deliver during a typical show.
“One of the things we were really excited about, as far as the new record is concerned, the first thing we put out had a more acoustic feel to it and that is just not what our shows are like,” Boyd said. “Our shows have much more of an edge than our first record could have. So one of the things with this was, we really tried to keep it as true to the live show as we could. It’s more expansive, as far as sounds we are using and it definitely translates more into having more of the Americana rock thing that we do live.”
Given that Colvin, Boyd and Pope each had their own bands before coming together to form Bugaboo, it took a bit to adjust to the feeling of no longer being “in the driver’s seat,” as Boyd put it, but they’re evolving and learning and finding the best ways to come together, even as they wrap up work on “Asteria.”
“It was rough at first, all being hard-headed and from our own bands, but musically we found something happen and that’s what made us stick with it and turn everything into a pretty awesome project,” Pope said.
Even though they “definitely butt heads,” they still consider themselves brothers, a status that Colvin said was vital to navigating the past two years and also putting out the record.
And while they may fight, it’s never about the music.
“That’s something that’s never been disputed. We’ve played exceptionally well together since the very first time,” Boyd said. “As we’ve learned how to communicate, it’s become easier to know where things are going musically. Something I’m personally proud of, even though we all come from different backgrounds and situations where we were in control, as far as the music is concerned, we all agree what it should be even when it comes to input. We’ll fight about anything else.”
If nothing else, “Asteria” comes off as a respectable achievement for this trio, if only because they made it happen, thanks entirely to their determination and talent. With no money, no agent, no PR, no record label and only their brotherhood and musical passion to propel them and a beat up Toyota Previa minivan dubbed “Meg White” to transport them, “Asteria” stands as the culmination of everything they’ve spent years working toward.
Was it worth it? Judge for yourself when the album drops in February, or check out their live show at 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7 at Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Que in Tyler.