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By Jim Schutze
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By Scott Reitz
There's a sweetness and innocence to Avi Buffalo that's as indebted to leader Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg's tender age as it is the lilting indie pop he makes.
The 20-year-old Long Beach, California, native started the band with schoolmates while in high school and connected with producer Aaron Embry (Elliott Smith, Jane's Addiction), who recorded songs for their debut to test his new home studio. Those recordings eventually found their way to Sub Pop, which released last year's critically lauded self-titled debut. Zahner-Isenberg's tremulous falsetto recalls Girls' Christopher Owens, while strummy, shimmering melodies waft dreamily recalling The Flaming Lips, The Shins and Neutral Milk Hotel.
Though the lyrics are callow and appropriately girl-crazy for his age, they're redeemed by Zahner-Isenberg's astounding playing. He's jammed privately with Nels Cline (Wilco) and developed a wonderfully fragrant finger-picked style that fills the beatific arrangements with the color and subtle detail of a botanical garden.
After touring widely last year and enduring the departure of two members, including ex-girlfriend Rebecca Coleman, Zahner-Isenberg began writing for a new album in the spring. Though there's been little indication of what progress he's made, he's said he wants the next album to be an adventure like Dr. Dre's The Chronic. Perhaps this show will offer hints as to what that entails.