100 Page Tattoo is a six-song EP from the band Django Mack. Led by songwriter and lead singer Brandon Butrick, his distinctive gravel strewn growl is remarkably accessible and further sweetened by backing vocals from a trio of female voices. Previous releases have highlighted his exceptional songwriting skills and 100 Page Tattoo brings them out on display in a much more vivid way than ever before. Butrick is increasingly expert at bringing together long-standing imagery common to Americana and blues with an idiosyncratic and highly individual point of view and penchant for imagery.
Django Mack have established themselves as a compelling live act and these songs are similarly geared. It isn’t difficult to imagine how these songs will wallop the audience even more decisively framed by live performance. Butrick produced the EP with drummer Tim Vaughan and bassist Tom Donald – the seamless creative vision they impose on the collection has no lulls and sounds like a moment captured live rather than some premeditated studio concoction.
The first song and title track is, far and away, the best example of the exemplary production values that Butrick, Vaughan, and Donald brought to this EP release. The scope of the recording easily encompasses its variety of musical elements – R&B horns, snaky and high-stepping bass, topped off by a superb drumming performance from Vaughan. The neo-soul/funk character of this song gets things off to a fast start.
There’s a rugged spirit driving the song “Lookout!” punctuated by some lively horn fills and subtle escalations of musical intensity along the way. The guitar has a much more forceful presence with this number without ever being too heavy-handed. The sole track on 100 Page Tattoo lacking Butrick’s songwriting influence, “Knock Me Down”, is a tune co-credited to bassist Tom Donald and its melodic acoustic guitar vibe is an effective change of pace for an album that hangs its hat, for the most part, on electrification. Butrick shows no signs of being uncomfortable with material he didn’t write and sings this with every bit of the same commitment he brings to other tracks.
Django Mack Let’s It All Hang Out
The EP’s longest number, “Knife Fight”, is definitely among the most evocative moments on the recording and further illustrates the band’s ever-growing artistry. The focal point here is Butrick’s vocal, a marvel of control and suggestiveness, but the musical backing is equally powerful and never disappoints. The band brings everything to a slow build throughout the song and the slightly longer running time allows them an opportunity to stretch out.
Their playful side comes out more with “Roadrunner”, a love letter in song form to an automobile and the long tradition of such songs in popular music is served well by this song. The last track, “Rooster in the Henhouse”, has a welcome bawdy edge and ends the EP with the aforementioned uncompromising slant that’s consistently one of the band’s hallmarks. 100 Page Tattoo is another resounding success for Django Mack and shows the band demonstrating no signs of slowing down.
-review by Lance Wright