Blasting out of a suburban Dallas garage with guitars blazing, the Buck Pets made their debut in a fury of loudly textured hard rock. A bit punky in approach (guitarist Chris Savage knows his way around feedback; the bratty lyrics are sung with youthful verve) but scaled for stadiums, the quartet shares some traits with other young bands rooted in the likes of Led Zeppelin. While the songs on The Buck Pets are rarely memorable (“A Little Murder” is a neat exception), Ron St. Germain’s dynamic production captures the exciting guitar sound in all its overmodulated glory. (The CD adds a bonus track.)
While most ex-punks head straight for metal’s commercial slipstream, the Buck Pets actually pulled back on the arena tendencies and made a punky street-level second album. With Michael Beinhorn producing (and playing keyboards), Mercurotones reflects a strong Replacements influence, throws off the same sort of rambunctious riff-rock favored by Soul Asylum and employs acoustic guitars and a few acid-house shuffle rhythms. Indicative of how open to new ideas the Buck Pets have grown, “Libertine” (a track produced by the Dust Brothers) features horns and a syncopated dance beat.