Every once in a while an artist or band puts out what I call a “near flawless record”, which is a record that captures the listener from beginning to end, each song as strong as the last, and it demonstrates a versatile nature that can appeal to just about any listener on some level. Now I reserve calling a record truly flawless for those extraordinary classics like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or Michael Jackson’s Thriller (that’s right, still an MJ fan; shoot me), but if there ever were an indie underground record that blurs the lines between the two, it’s Broken Field Runner’s Lay My Head Down.
Released on Jetsam-Flotsam Records this past July, Lay My Head Down is a tour de force of epic proportions. It has a bit of everything – beautifully crafted instrumentation, emotion-soaked lyrics of depth and personal insight, and the stunning vocals by singer/guitarist Anthony Bucci.
If the lyrics alone doesn’t do it, the story behind the bands second full-length album truly gives it even more depth. Hailing originally from upstate New York, Bucci had already established BFR with it’s first release Clear A Heaven So This Earth Can Breathe in 2015, followed by the EP Heavy Hanging Fruit in 2017, before uprooting to Los Angeles, California. The band’s bio explains that the earlier releases, “reveal a songwriter unafraid of confronting the dense and difficult,” but it was the move to LA that, “inspired the sort of introspection and emotion that Bucci had never before experienced.”
With his new home on the west coast, Lay My Head Down was born, along with a strong backbone for gigging and recording that included Jo-Jo Rose (of NXNES) on guitar, Laura Murphy on bass/vocals, and Chris Villeneuve (of Drug Church) on drums.
Lay My Head Down opens with the track “Put An Ocean Between My Self Pity and Me” – the name alone paints a brief image of the emotional roller coaster the record is getting ready to embark the listener on, while sound wise being something of a calm before the storm. The second track, and one of my favorites from the record, is “Palm Tree Wave”. Bucci’s vocal range shines bright going from a soft, melodic croon of the verses to the shrill, yet melodic screams of the chorus. Along with the extremely catchy guitar riffs and blasting drum rolls, it’s enough to make you feel it right down to your core upon listening, and as the second single from the album, the song’s music video helps truly bring it to life.
The album continues on with so much versatility in its sound that it keeps the album from ever becoming stale or boring, while also giving listeners so much that anyone can find something they love within it. The band incorporates horns on the track “Man Plans (Now You Have Something Too)”, a powerful spoken word poem on “God Laughs”, and bassist Laura Murphy lends her lead vocal prowess on the tracks “Soft Pink Hands” and “Heat”.
BFR have a true knack for crafting songs with many layers, and alongside it’s beautiful production, this is highlighted incredibly well. Songs like “Koreatown”, the albums first single, also accompanied with a very cool music video, is sure to get stuck in your head for days to come. Bucci also has an obvious ability to sing and write lyrics that sometimes may send chills down your spine, make you contemplate your own existence, or possibly put a smile on your face. As stated earlier, it’s truly an emotional roller coaster that personally reminded me of bands like the Dear Hunter or the defunct Straylight Run.
I am constantly being impressed by local and underground music, but this release and band truly captivated me and I cannot recommend this record enough. Broken Field Runner is for fans of and inspired by bands like Pedro the Lion, Mansions and Weatherbox. You can listen to Lay My Head Down and previous releases on BFR’s Bandcamp, or pick up a physical copy of the album along with other merch from the Jetsam-Flotsam Records online store. Also, be sure to subscribe to their YouTube channel and follow them on Facebook for more.