Reviewing the Neighbors: Butte's "I Don't Want to Complain to You"
Post by Joshua James on 11/18/2009 10:25am
Upon first listen, Butte’s I Don’t Want To Complain To You comes off as an adequate album of straight forward power pop. Luckily, I've kept it in steady rotation for the past few months and recently realized its staying power. Often I will receive a record, review it, and be done with it. I don't see that happening with Butte's new release.
Butte consists of John Schuppel and Mike Grunder, two Madison music stalwarts who have done time in numerous local bands including The Lee Rays and The Sugar Jets. This long history helps Butte make up for what they lack in creativity with chemistry. Like kismet, John and Mike pull off perfectly matched harmonies that turn a song that would be used as filler by lesser musicians into something explosive.
Butte is a two piece band with John and Mike playing guitar with Mike pulling double duty on drums - which you would think is a difficult task until you catch them live. The drum tracks come courtesy of pre-recorded video of Grunder fed through the house P.A. and cast upon a white sheet the band sets up before the show. The point being that Butte are so tight that if they should even be a half step off there is no redemption. (Am I the only one that chuckled a bit at the idea of a tight Butte? I am a child.)
Butte is at their best with "Ampersand," which displays the bands harmonic prowess, "Something New To You," where they dip their feet into punk waters, and "The Takeoff (Not The Landing)," which is the shining moment from I Don’t Want To Complain To You. I could take or leave "Boobs and Doobs" but I won’t gripe because I’m the same guy who just pat himself on the back for "tight Butte." "Boobs and Doobs" might be two of my most favorite things in the world but on this album it comes off sounding forced.
I saw Butte perform live last Spring at the Frequency. The wife and I walked in and were presented with a box filled with pins that said "I Like Butte" and "I Dislike Butte." I didn’t miss the joke, but I was hesitant to take part considering I had yet to partake in any Butte action (my wife took the dislike button), but when the evening was through I stepped out into the cool evening proudly displaying my “like” of Butte. That’s right Madison: I Like Butte.
Joshua James is the pseudonym for Joshua Trinkner, a small town boy with big city dreams that eventually failed and led him to Madison. Along with writing for Dane101 Josh is the co-host of the internet talk/sketch comedy show Drunk Dial 101 with fellow contributor Adam Schabow. When he isn’t pontificating endlessly about the sound of tin can Josh is taking care of his son and making sweet sweet love to his wife down by the fire with a snifter of brandy and Lou Reed’s ‘Metal Machine Music’ on the stereo because that’s how he rolls.
Joshua James can be reached at