The Red Plastic Buddha
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The Red Plastic Buddha

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
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"Creating spacey psychedelic music is a difficult craft. The guys of RPB, however, accomplish this beautifully by taking the groove to all the right places.

Sunflower Sessions showcases the bands versatility as they bounce from light melodies to heavy bass-driven tracks.

... Sunflower Sessions, the debut from Red Plastic Buddha, is sure to spread far beyond the burgeoning psychedelic underground."
- Trevor Dye


Full disclosure: I did not expect to enjoy Sunflower Sessions by The Red Plastic Buddha. I saw the 60’s-style cover art, the trippy bubble letters – the name, for heaven’s sake – and while I enjoy 60’s rock as much as the next critic, I tend to feel that, like Vegas, what happens in the 60’s should stay in the 60’s.

But as soon as the first track came on, I was, for want of a better word, grooving. It’s really your only option when you listen to this album. You’ve got all the important bits: the faintly exotic guitar, the Doors-style keyboard, the seemingly-improvisational song endings that go on for days, and that swelling vibe. Do you know what I mean? That feeling that only sixties music gives me, like something’s building up in your chest as the song works up to its conclusion. It’s heavy, man.

“Come on and let it happen to you,” croons the lead singer, Timothy Ferguson. “You’ve gotta open up your mind and let everything flow through.” Point taken, boys. And let’s be honest: you had me at ‘come on.’

Favorite Track: “Clouds”

- Online Rock


"painted landscapes of layered sounds provided by the guitars, keyboards, and percussion parts all intertwined with vocal harmonies that take you back to the carefree spirit of an earlier time".

8 out of 10

C.W. Ross - CW Ross


"I heard a lot of great music on this recording."

"I think bands like The Red Plastic Buddha will help launch psychedelic music's reemergence and you will see teenagers all over the world picking up guitars and putting together bands like they did when this music first became popular. "


- Keith Hannaleck


"Like a Peter Max painting come to life, Red Plastic Buddha comes in colors. With semi-spastic guitar solos that bring to mind early Jefferson Airplane, keyboard parts that very vaguely suggest Ray Manzarek and the Doors, and vocals that range from an intense scream to a distant call, they've really got the flavors down. "

"it's a pretty sweet 33 minutes of dark, retrograde flower power. " - Jon Sobel


"As soon as I started playing the first track off of their album Sunflower Sessions, I knew that entire CD was going to be an incredible listening experience. The guitar riff that starts up about 30 seconds into “Forget Me Not” really gets you into the song and the album as a whole. And there’s really powerful singing throughout that screams of old school rock ‘n roll stylings." - Dave Rival


"Whirling, swirling and pulsating like any psychedelia worth its weight in windowpanes, The Red Plastic Buddha weaves memories of the dreamy, moody and driving psychedelic sounds of the '60s and '70s with their own personal touches for a very enjoyable and trippy blend.

... head banging psychedelia - beautiful and tough." - Zed Next


"I'm really digging The Red Plastic Buddha." - Chicago Tribune, WNPR's Sound Opinions


THE RED PLASTIC BUDDHA
Sunflower Sessions

He has heard a lot of music in the last two thousand years, shaved skull, dark skin, big grin kicking down some cloudy Chicago back street in cool boots. A splinter of sunshine bounces back off his spectacles giving the impression of a man with white light mirrored eyes. He is listening to The Red Plastic Buddha’s “Sunflower Sessions” and smiles at the irony of the name: guitar riffs from a better age fill his ears to the brim, a west coast sound that topples dominoes of memory, and he is tumbling back through decades and sensations… a big old field, kids barefoot dancing.

Chicago’s The Red Plastic Buddha are blessed with a big sound that gets blown up out of the earthly stratosphere by it’s equally big production, yet at the same time it somehow sounds but a stone’s throw from its alternative roots. In fact “Sunflower Sessions” released through Spade Kitty Records has you hooked within the first 10 seconds when the “1… 2… 3… waarrgh!” of opening track “Forget Me Not” screams out from your stereo. Combined with a cracking riff lifted right out of the mid-1960s, you’ll struggle to find a more infectiously sincere beginning to a record anywhere else.

Thankfully the flying start is just a tiny fragment of what’s to come. In fact, one of the most interesting virtues of The Red Plastic Buddha is that they are a little bit of a lot of things. “Forget Me Not” is the perfect example - it sounds like a retro psychedelic pop song played by a modern alternative rock band. The finished picture treads a tightrope between Technicolor light and technical dark and carries you on its shoulders effortlessly to the other side. It’s a positive form of musical schizophrenia because it intelligently and emotionally appeals to both halves of your listening brain that need pleasing. For every inch of Beatlesque pop harmony on the killer chorus, there’s an equal measure of virtuoso guitar feedback to keep you on your toes. “Forget Me Not” sets the tone for ”Sunflower Sessions” by its ambiguities. The Red Plastic Buddha may appear on he surface like a polished sunshine psych band, but rather than pitching tent in any particular camp this collection of songs seem to reflect an accidental and commendable urge to burn through every credible guitar genre there is, like pied pipers at the gates of dawn. If this is the child of early Pink Floyd, then there’s just as much stadium Floyd in the gene pool too.

The transition from “Forget Me Not” to second track “Rollercoaster” is the musical equivalent of someone drawing a black cloud of curtains across the sky. Swirling Hammond organs, jagged Velvet Underground guitar, pounding drums, Jim Morrison vox, and has a xylophone melody ever sounded so menacing? By the end of the song, you’re not just curiously hooked, you’re happily strapped in and going nowhere until the journey reaches its logical conclusion. So where to next?

Paradoxically the sun is out again on the catchy as fuck ”Clouds”, rolling like Tim Burgess fronting Canned Heat. Then you’re somewhere else altogether during the complex lovelorn ballad “Kerosene” when it suddenly becomes apparent that what this band are so brilliant at doing, is revisiting the sounds and ideas of the past and putting it in a thoroughly modern context. Feelings rise from the belly mirroring the mantra of “I watch you burn… I never learn” as the song races to an explosive finish.

If it ended here then I’d be able to write this up as a pretty damn decent and diverse record to dip in and out of down the years, but perhaps predictably The Red Plastic Buddha save the best for last. “Over and Over” is both a songsmith’s song and something you’d expect to catch in the corner of your ear on a mainstream radio station. I’m talking credible mainstream here - a song of substance, reminiscent of Teenage Fanclub at their finest, back to The Byrds, and another staggering guitar crescendo to top it all off. It’s an exclamation of song at the end of a sunflower sentence - fragile, melodic, and very, very cool.

The Red Plastic Buddha check so many boxes that you’d be forgiven for stopping and wondering how genuine it all is. Great band name? Check. Songs that sound like they were written in the 1960s? Check. A big modern production that put the songs in a frame they deserve? Check. Maverick, smiling frontman and creative mastermind in stripey Kinks trousers (Tim Ferguson) on the record sleeve? Check. Psychedelic enough? Check. Rock & Roll enough? Most definitely check. Pop enough? Probably definitely checkmate. It almost seems too good to be really true. But if you’re wondering then you should go back and listen to the songs and in particular the lyrics - the wrapping paper might be kaleidoscopic, but tear open the box of “what’s this all about then?” and when all is said and done “Sunflower Sessions” is a very human record that deals with primitive emotions like the breakdown of relationships, aspiration, apprehension, and love, love, love. That it happens to tick all those boxes is a groovy combination of luck forged by the raw unconscious talent for fusing styles and exploring possibilities. The bottom line is that this is a great little record with something for everyone, and songs that will put a smile on your face whenever you hear them for a long, long time.

OM
- Steven Smalls


Mining a cavernous, exaggerated style of psychedelia, not unlike XTC's alter ego Dukes of Stratosphere, this Chicago quintet pours out some primitive, wiggy stuff on Sunflower Sessions, even deigning to cover the Elevators' 'Rollercoaster', in a dark, keyboard-laced rendition. Like Austin's similarly minded Coffee Seargents, RPB are all about the feel, the atmosphere, rather than any highfalutin pretention. Singer Tim Ferguson's gorgeous vocals preside over plenty of guitar / keyboard interplay, the band stretching the songs out to their logical conclusions without giving much up in terms of melodic precision. A consistent listen, Sunflower Sessions is a fine calling-card, signaling a promising band to watch. - Charlie Sands


Discography

Sunflower Sessions - Spade Kitty Records (2007)
Official release date September 29, 2007

All Out Revolution - Space Cat Records (2011)
Official release date April 29, 2011

Photos

Bio

Strobes pulse, colors swirl, the scent of incense is everywhere. A pretty girl in a mini skirt brushes past you and smiles. A strange and colorful crowd has packed the small club and there is a tangible sense of expectation.

This is a typical setting for The Red Plastic Buddha, perhaps Chicago's strongest contender in the resurgent worldwide psychedelic movement. The release of their debut Sunflower Sessions saw them burst onto the scene like a Technicolor flashback from the late 60s.

The Red Plastic Buddha create a modern psychedelic music that not only honors past legends from the Summer of Love, but also expands and expounds upon those idealistic themes. Although this five-piece would have fit in well on marquees featuring Love, Barrett-era Pink Floyd, The Byrds, Tomorrow or the 13th Floor Elevators, theirs is a huge sound not given to slavish adherence to the past.

“Our goal is to be the musical equivalent of NASA,” says RPB singer Timothy Ferguson. “If we simply continue flying Apollo rockets, we’ll only go so far. We think it’s time to step beyond where we’ve gone before, both as a band and as representatives of a genre. We don’t shun modern themes, technology or recording methods, and I certainly don’t think this approach has hurt our sound one bit.”

All the hallmarks of classic psychedelia are here, from paisley tinged 12-string guitars to pulsating rhythms. The Red Plastic Buddha though, add a new dynamism and a real sense of urgency to their songs. Catchy melodies, wave after wave of harmony vocals, guitars, keyboards, strings, and sitars ride a rhythm section that thunders and throbs like a redlining nuclear reactor. Post modern this is not.

Their new record, ‘All Out Revolution’, features a band at the height of their creative powers and delivers eleven new original songs and a blistering remake of the Electric Prunes Too Much to Dream (Last Night). Recorded, mixed and mastered at Grammy award winning Joyride Studios, All Out Revolution stands poised to rocket the band into a very bright future, indeed.

Psychedelia is back, and as The Red Plastic Buddha prove, it's stronger than ever.

The Red Plastic Buddha have been compared to: Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Dandy Warhols, Kinks, Love, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Warlocks, Stone Roses.