Driven by a vicious and visceral soul, The Buttshakers are famous for their fierce and fiery music: turntables steam from the heat of their records, dance floors buckle under the blistering pressure of their infectious grooves, a group with a burning Midas' touch. Yet after a decade of touring and recording, it was a different musical vision that they approached Sweet Rewards, their first collaboration with Underdog Records. Accustomed to the raw, primitive sounds of '60s garage rock and the crude sexuality of pre-Motown soul music, The Buttshakers have created a reputation as a "must see" live band, perfectly aligned loud rock riffs and lustful desires.
A sound they could have continued to dig into again and again. Instead, they decided to take another road. A creative shift, a return to a style of soul music that no longer has to rely on pure energy alone; a sound that concentrates on the quality of writing, composition and performance rather than pure virility. Exceeding the limitations imposed by their tight yet powerful six person lineup (vocals-guitar-drums-bass-trombone-baritone saxophone), they opened up this studio to fully accommodate their ideas and concrete their musical ambitions, emphasizing the subtle structures of the overall production: a larger horn section creates a richer, scintillating sonority; a touch of slide-guitar opens their creative universe to the open spaces of the West; the organ vacillates between psychedelic drapery and heartfelt gospel tones; all of this music by the wicked groove of a percussionist driving the beat on.
Their sultry and soulful frontwoman, Ciara Thompson, is here for the first time supported by backing vocalist. An opportunity for her to indulge in a few call-and-response chorales, a reverence to a gospel background instilled in her from her native St. Louis, MO, a vibrant city heritage of the cradled jazz, blues, country and folk music. This new liberty gives a room to explore various emotional encounters, exposing a voice capable of fitting perfecting into the intimacy of a stripped down acoustic ballad as well as a nervous funky break. Ideal for a sound that never fails to remain intuitive to the gradual rise of emotion each song demands. With each new listening, Sweet Rewards reveals something new to the listener: another dimension, a hidden layer. An album and a group that they have more than one trick up their sleeves.