In 2017 the Buttertones put out Gravedigging, but on their newest Midnight In A Moonless Dream, they're digging deeper and discovering something dark. If Gravedigging felt like an over saturated spaghetti-western desertscape, Midnight is much more biting – music made for the swampland that spit out Australia's mad Scientists, or for the Mickey Spillane night city where the Cramps met all those garbagemen and werewolves. Or maybe the Buttertones are heading for an even more primal place: "Show more teeth / Bite your way in," sings guitarist Richard Araiza. "You're back in the jungle again!"
Midnight was made in two flash sessions at Long Beach's Jazzcats studio with Gravedigging producer Jonny Bell, whose genre-smashing record collection and appetite for experimentation made for a perfect match. On the vicious "Winks and Smiles," the spirit of sax and violence that powered cult-classic L.A. punkers the Deadbeats suddenly comes to life; on the starked-out "You and Your Knife" and fog-and-smoke follow-up "Brickhead," you'll hear the cryptic echoes of Suicide or Bauhaus. It's music made for dancers but also for doomed romancers, and you'll hear it best on the pocket symphony "Eros," which closes the album with Lynch-ian vision and power – here Araiza sings with almost startling passion, and if you don't linger on the idea of graveyard angels in perpetual embrace, it's a love song for the ages. This is the strong stuff, the kind that comes in an unmarked bottle and burns when it hits.
There's a tension and even a sinister new dimension on Midnight that the Buttertones never quite had before. Like lead single "Baby C4," which ignites like something from a New York no-wave song, with slashing sax and ferocious drums and a piano riff falling of a cliff before Araiza fights through the noise and gunsmoke, and what's the very first word on the whole album? "Bang!" he shouts – and that says it all.