Though all the band’s members were born in Alaska, The Builders and The Butchers were formed in the Fall of 2005 in Portland, Oregon. Their first two years consisted of busking, playing house shows, and showing up unannounced anywhere around Portland where people were gathered. Music fans began to take notice of the band’s folk rock sound and participatory live performances, and the Builders and The Butchers transitioned slowly, going from playing unplugged on the floor of venues to gradually electrifying as they grew into one of the most exciting live bands in the Pacific Northwest. The band toured throughout the US and Europe from 2007-2012, playing music festivals, such as Sasquatch and Lollapalooza, and acting as support for Portugal. The Man, Heartless Bastards, Amanda Palmer, and Murder By Death. Ryan Sollee fronts The Builders & The Butchers, singing and playing guitar along with his compatriots Justin Baier (drums, backup vocals, percussion), Willy Kunkle (bass, guitar, vocals, percussion), Ray Rude (drums, piano, clarinet, backup vocals, percussion), and Harvey Tumbleson (mandolin, banjo, guitar, vocals, percussion).
The Spark – the band’s sixth album and first since 2013 – was, by the band’s account, their most difficult to make. With several members living out of state (Baier in Colorado, Kunkle in Malta, Tumbleson in Washington and Sollee and Rude in Portland), the process took longer than the band’s previous efforts and many parts were recorded remotely. Yet, from this process came an album that is deliberate and direct. According to Sollee, “The intention was to really let things breathe, and have one or two unique instruments driving the melody. Concentrating more on the root of the song… The album spans a ton of sounds, from fully saturated rock to more stripped-down American folk, and simple songs with just guitar and vocals.” Much of the record is a rollicking affair, with tracks like the stomping “Never Tell” and punky “Older Than Sin” channeling the intensity of the band’s live performances. Still, there are also moments of divine, pensive beauty, as on the gospel-inflected album closer “Let The Wind Carry Me Home.”
“A kind of white-knuckle Americana… shot through with nervy, hellfire-and-brimstone intensity. [The Spark carries on] the group’s tradition of tightly wound roots music that never feels tethered to a single era.” -NPR
“The Builders and the Butchers make records the way the bards used to pass on stories. They’re poetic and captivating, and do to songwriting what Clint Eastwood does to movie.” -Consequence of Sound
RIYL: Langhorne Slim, Fruit Bats, The Decemberists, The White Stripes, Pine Hill Haints, Drive By Truckers, Fleet Foxes, The Cave Singers, O’Death, Deer Tick
Recommended Tracks: Track 6, “No Grave,” Track 3, “Older Than Sin,” Track 5, “Casket Lands,” Track 7, “Never Tell,” Track 11, “Let The Wind Carry Me Home”
Label: Badman Recording Co.
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