A friend of mine uses “stomp/clap band” to describe the recent trend of indie folk/pop, a sound reaching both its penultimate victory and sure sign of eminent decline with The Lumineers appearing at the Grammys and Mumford & Sons’ best album win. “You won’t find any ‘hos’ and ‘heys’ in our tunes,” says Terrible Buttons vocalist and guitarist Kent Ueland, referencing the recent hit “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers.
While the Spokane-based group describe themselves with the tongue-in-cheek classification “horror folk,” they’re quick to distance themselves from other bands in the recent folk revival. “When someone says ‘folk,’ The Lumineers and Fleet Foxes come to mind,” Ueland says. “That isn’t us. I feel that we come from a similar rootsy place but have a much darker tone.”
Musically, Terrible Buttons do share a lot with groups like Mumford and Sons and Fleet Foxes, such as large, acoustic-based lineups featuring horns, violins and unusual percussion as well as carefully thought out male/female vocal harmonies rooted in traditional music, but the Buttons add Modest Mouse’s clamorous indie rock with the epic arc of Arcade Fire to the mix.
And Ueland’s ragged snarl delves into darker territory than the band’s more radio-friendly contemporaries, like in “Divorce Papers” from their 2011 release, Plates of Ether. In it he sings: “My smiling bride learned to cry; as we grew older and learned how to die; and I swallowed all my pride; as unequally yoked I died, she died, we died.”
Terrible Buttons and Felsen play 8:30 pm Saturday, Feb. 23, at Axe & Fiddle in Cottage Grove; $5.