Under The Radar: Sugarbuzz

Most band names don’t communicate the sound of the band. Sugarbuzz does.

Sugarbuzz was a late 90s collaboration between Brian Leach and Brian Reed (they even had a third Brian – Brian Krumm – add some lead guitar parts). Leach has a solo album called The Sunrise Nearly Killed Me, which is among many powerpop fans’ favorites, but frankly after fifteen plus years I’m getting the Leach/Sugarbuzz timeline confused. But I like all his stuff – in his normal vocal range he has a sweet pop voice but slides into a sandy rasp in the upper register. Still don’t know much about Reed.

Submerged is a really solid effort that is heavy on the powerpop but winds in other elements for a nice mix. Occasionally they will recall other bands but Leach’s vocal adds a quality to the mix that gives them a unique sound. Not a lot of power in the powerpop…more of a perfect album for a Sunday morning drive.

“Overthrown” is one of my favorites, strongly recalling T.Rex, while the guitar and chord structure of “Lost Sensation” and “A World Away” recalls Jellyfish (especially the staccato strings and guitar solo). and I hate to use the word “beats” when talking about music, but “Born Again” sounds like the percussion was played by a guy on a street corner with an inverted plastic paint bucket. “The House That Never Sleeps” uses some subtle wah-wah and background string-bending to produce an infectious spacy sound; “Long Hot Summer” takes that ambling psychedelic approach to a point where you almost feel the exhaustion he’s singing about. I really like “On Some Other Day” where Leach (or Krumm?) goes all Joe Walsh for a couple of minutes.

I always lump Leach in with Matthew Sweet and artists from Champaign, Illinois (Velvet Crush, Adam Schmitt) probably because all this came out in the late 90s, although he and Reed really don’t sound that much like them. But if you are a fan of the aforementioned bands, I think you’ll like Sugarbuzz a lot. And like many pop albums that never made a big splash, an enterprising fan could get this for a song.

A few clips on MySpace

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3 Comments

Filed under Music, Reviews

3 responses to “Under The Radar: Sugarbuzz

  1. Michael Toland

    Man, I love this record. I became a major Leach geek for a while – even interviewed him for Amplifier. Over time I’ve let go most of his work (the solo album, the Last Gentlemen stuff, the first Sugarbuzz LP), but this record has stayed with me. I still pull it out once in a while and marvel – a lost pop classic, if you ask me.

    The last I heard Leach was content playing as a sideman to Brian Krumm in the Great Crusades. He deserves better.

  2. drbristol

    The funny part was that I thought of it after cleaning out and reorganizing the archives – came across so many old issues of Pop Culture Press, Amplifier, PopSided…ssing all the names in the bylines (including yours) reminded me how a few of those assemblies were all-star teams.

    I’ll have to check out the GCs, thanks!

  3. Thanks for the kind words!

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