David Brown of NPR once referred to their music as “jangly art rock for the left side of the brain,” and James Courtney of the San Antonio Current pointed out that, “All that they do is imbued with a sense of lightness and humor, which lends their music an infectious feeling of buoyancy.” With a listen to their latest album, Battle of Flowers, it’s clear that both of these journalists nailed the enigma of San Antonio, TX based Buttercup. Consisting of singer Erik Sanden, guitarist Joe Reyes and bassist Odie, the trio is honest, pure rock. Their latest is the resurgence of Americana that we need– reminiscent of Springsteen, and Springfield.
On Battle of Flowers, Buttercup exudes an acknowledgement of the almost comical way that life is. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and weighed down, their songs poke fun at and make light of reality– and if that doesn’t make it all a little easier to bear, who knows what will. “How to Think More About Sex” presents their brand of humor, ultimately within the title. A more subdued, melancholic tune in its instrumental core, the lyrics are bold and brash, in a way we can only chuckle at. However, this isn’t their premiere brush with humor– according to their bio, the band has been known to take what appear as “phone calls” from a red rotary phone (actually acting as a microphone). Their adoring fans are referred to as the “Buttercult,” who are sometimes personally prescribed songs by the band members, depending on their musical needs.
Mixed by Larry Crane (Elliott Smith, Death Cab for Cutie, Sleater-Kinney), Battle of Flowers ups Buttercup’s ante, in a polished sense. “Acting Thru Music” listens like a Flaming Lips or Strand of Oaks outtake, with bellowing choruses and grungy riffs. Its predecessor, “Let It Drop,” is more like an early Weezer track, brimming with rhythmic guitar lines and hollow vocals.
For Buttercup, their honesty allows us to cling to their music. “I Love You (You Believed In Me)” is a rolling confession, as Sanden shouts his “I love yous” with all cards on the table. It’s pure and accepting, as if the sheer admittance saves the band, consequences aside. Satisfying our urges, Buttercup spares nothing, and allows us a look at everything.