The Vermont trio Bison’s first release Get Out was my favorite EP of last year. Now they’re back with their second. That’s the good news. The bad: It’s also their last. Two of the three band members are moving away, and Bison will soon be no more. Judging from the first single “Arkansas,” at least they’re going out on top.
The first Bison song I wrote about was inspired by a Bernie Sanders campaign data breach. “Arkansas” arose from more typical origins: a breakup. So what does a Vermont singer’s breakup have to do with Arkansas? Nothing concrete, frontman Charlie Hill says: “When I started writing lyrics to it, I was kind of going down this road of writing a song about escaping. Arkansas fit as an example of a new and unknown environment that I think I was trying to express a desire for from the conflict of my relationship.”
A lyric’s origin story is always interesting, but, for me at least, the music comes first with this band. They call themselves “disco punk,” which is apt, but a genre tag really already exists for this genre: post-punk. And they do it better than just about anyone out there today. Following in the lineage of Interpol or, reaching back further into music history, Gang of Four, the trio winds intricate guitar and bass riffs towards holler-along choruses. “Arkansas” is as catchy as anything they’ve done, and the full final EP Drive Fast, Love Hard comes out June 1st.
Hill offers this postscript to Bison’s brief but stellar run: “In the end, our dreams always were expanding as the band grew. Ideas of what this band could be are still lodged in our minds. We may not have reached the extent of our imagination with this band, but we certainly feel we tried our best to do it the way we saw fit.”