In 2010 mainstays of the Dunedin music scene, Left Or Right, dropped their impressive debut album Nuggety, shocking and impressing critics and punters in equal measure. Not only was it an excellent record but it gave the talented trio (Seedy Marshall – Bass, Metua Marama – Drums, Callum Hampton – Guitar) a great excuse to tour the length and breadth of the country, making new fans at every pit stop. It is easy to stand apart from the crowd when you are a band that is as comfortable playing reggae as you are down-tuned sludgy metal, all tempered with a down home kiwiana vibe. Buzzy is the highly anticipated follow up and it raises the bar set by Nuggety in every possible way.
The album opens with lead single “Looking For A Tennis Ball”, an ode to one of our country's favourite summer pastimes: backyard cricket. How many songs do you know that could get away with the line “The tennis ball is the same bloody colour as the garden” and actually make sense?Any genre or style that takes their fancy is theirs to command. Feeling like a side order of sleazy funk? Listen to the guitars on “Hobo”. Perhaps a dancehall call-to-arms is more your speed? Then direct yourself to “Weather Tune I”. The main tools of the trade might be metal and reggae for Left Or Right but don't think for a minute that they are limited to just that. If there was one song on Buzzy that aptly demonstrates what Left Or Right are all about it would be “Joe The Hoe”. At nearly nine minutes it is the longest track on the album but it makes for a beastly ride and features some of the best headbanging moments the record has to offer.
All of this rhythm and groove is fueled by a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour and the shaggy dog stories that the songs tell. The one-two punch of “Frozen Cat” and “Blackie The Cat” not only rock hard but tell a coherent tale as well. The first is concerned with defrosting and resurrecting the titular frozen cat, and the second is about returning it to its rightful owner – both songs even have nearly identical choruses. Everything comes a head on the almighty two part closer, “Weather Tune”: a roller coaster of everything that Left Or Right are capable of, like emptying out all of the tricks up their sleeves at once and finding four aces. The blues riff laden outro is a sight to behold and is likely to be even more glorious when performed live.
There are no duds at all on the album. At any moment you can be caught off guard by a sudden change in tempo or tone, or perhaps a vocal harmony will burst through. A guitar solo might bring a goofy smile to your face, or was it the trumpet coming out of nowhere? Buzzy is a fun album designed with good times in mind. The lasting impression that it leaves on the listener is that the band are a nice bunch of guys who just want to have some fun and make badass music in the process. Mission complete! But, as anyone who has been following the band for the last couple of years knows, getting a hold of Left Or Right's albums and loving them is only the beginning. If you want to catch the boys at the zenith of their powers you really need to see their explosive, jam-tastic live shows.