The first time I saw Reubens Accomplice was a few days after September 11, 2001, when they opened for Jimmy Eat World and Hey Mercedes at the Metro in Chicago. Reubens Accomplice were the first live music I had heard since that tragedy—hell, that gig was the first one Jimmy Eat World & Co. had played since the tragedy—and even though I was unfamiliar with them before the show, upon hearing the first notes of their jangly, heartfelt, emotional indie rock I felt a sincere feeling of love and I knew that everything was gonna be okay. I described them at the time as “if the Promise Ring had all been born and raised in the Southwest, and grew up on a steady diet of Wilco and Modest Mouse,” and I think that still holds up.
I bought their first album, I Blame The Scenery, later that night and have been a fan ever since—so when I learned the band were reissuing their phenomenal second album The Bull, The Balloon, And The Family on vinyl April 14 via Good Land Records, I was thrilled. And when I was presented with the opportunity to help shine a light on eight previously unreleased outtakes and demos from the album’s recording sessions, I was completely over the moon. All vinyl copies of The Bull, The Balloon, And The Family include a download card for the following eight songs, but you can try before you buy below. If you like what you hear, keep reading as we have a track-by-track breakdown of each song from co-frontmen Jeff Bufano and Chris Corak below, and don’t forget to pre-order the vinyl here!
CHRIS CORAK: I had so much fun playing this song live back in the day. Always interesting to see what John would play during the crazy drum part. Doesn’t disappoint in this version. Too bad we never got to finish this version.
JEFF BUFANO: This was recorded during the original Bull studio sessions but the computer crashed and this song was lost. This is the recovered file in its 85 percent finished state.
It Is What It Is (demo)
CHRIS: I love how dark the theremin and organ make this version. This is my favorite of the demos.
JEFF: Weird intro on this version.
Act On (Feeling Alone) (demo)
JEFF: The main reason for including this one was to point out how important Amy Ross’ vocal was to the studio version of this song in the backward way of sharing the demo that doesn’t have her vocal.
Underneath The Golden Grain (Demo)
CHRIS: We recorded this and the “It Is What It Is” demo as part of a student’s recording project at the conservatory. Our friend Jamal came to hang out and play in the session. Without his bass line and harmony, this song is flat-out silly. Thanks for saving this one, Jamal.
JEFF: Chris wrote a love song to his guitar, because why not?
Long Run (bonus)
CHRIS: Fun to listen back to this one. Maybe one day we’ll revisit it, or at least get Ryan to lay down his bass.
JEFF: I’ve always liked this song but it was never really given much effort.
Sex And Money (bonus)
CHRIS: You can hear the tape warping at one point. This was probably the last demo Jim Knapp was still on drums.
JEFF: This probably should be three different songs
Rat Race (bonus)
CHRIS: I really like this song and think Jeff has some great lyrics here. Felt like we never nailed the production though. The poppiness is a little over the top and in your face. Would love to have heard what someone like Ben Kweller would’ve done with it.
JEFF: We always wanted a huge horn section in the chorus.
Jackson 5 (bonus)
CHRIS: Old-school cassette 4-track jam.
JEFF: I love the way 4-track tape sounds. It’s not practical especially for us since we lean towards more epic production but I’d love to do a 4-track EP.