Watching The Most Serene Republic this summer was like watching a wino eat grapes – it might make sense in time, but not quite yet (thank-you to Mitch Hedberg). That is to say, Most Annoying Republic was the Arts&Crafts buzz band that never really buzzed outside Toronto, or even in Toronto depending on who you read. From a broader perspective, they were A&C’s first real disappointment, and first real reason to be disappointed in the A&C. Rushing out that band and subsequent album showed poor artist and repertoire judgment on behalf of the label; just because the Most Serene Republic guy sang songs in his U of T dorm room didn’t necessarily mean he was ready to release an album. That band, along with the Arts&Crafts merch department (who fold up/crease posters by sending them in envelopes rather than using poster tubes), seemed enough reason to seriously doubt or even avoid New Buffalo, the latest A&C signee from Australia. But then it occurred to us that ignoring new talent for those reasons was irrational and slightly vindictive. As an artist that has been allowed to develop on her own, through EP releases and a reasonable amount of touring, New Buffalo has a much better chance at success than her Serene A&C predecessors. And, not coincidently, she does succeed.
It felt a little strange at the outset; watching a woman sing along to tracks on her I-Pod instead of a backing band. But we definitely warmed up to it last night at Sneaky Dee’s. New Buff sings with a sense of vulnerability that actually compliments a single I-Pod (it may have even been an I-Pod mini for gosh sakes). With just singing and occasionally playing a guitar or keyboard, we suppose it’s even a bit Tin Pan Alley. At any rate, without a greasy back-up band, New Buffalo was rather endearing.
So in the end, we suppose everyone is a winner: Us, Arts&Crafts, Boy Reporter (who couldn’t get any closer to the stage), New Buffalo, the Canadian music-buying public.