Profile of Budhi Brown

Budhi Brown's logo proclaims that the band is a "rock noir" outfit, and it doesn't take long to figure out what that means. The Time or the Place, the band's full-length debut, evokes imagery of dusty alleys and smoky barrooms that could have been ripped directly from any cheesy black-and-white detective movie of your choice. The atmosphere of the album is fostered by Budhi Brown's unique arrangement: the band eschews the usual contemporary guitar orchestration in favor of saxophones and a two-string slide bass. The arrangement is unusual but still sounds complete. It works. Frontman Jon Vegas' vocals are reminiscent of the Tragically Hip's Gord Downie: soulful, mysterious and compelling. The two saxophones and frequent rhythmical shifts give the band a decidedly groovy sound. The band is at its best in its most melodic tunes. "Death is a Flower," the first single, is an infectious damnation of a treacherous lover containing a quintessentially noir chorus ("Death is a flower / And it smells like you"). "Viewmaster" and "Barcelona," meanwhile, are just plain catchy. The album's slower, more straightforward songs, like the opener, "Don't Scare Me None," are generally nondescript. But more often than not, Budhi Brown is very successful in blending the noir style with a certain gritty energy - making for an appealing, one-of-a-kind sound.