Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bird Names – Sings the Browns [Really Coastal]

A neat a little tape by Chicago band Bird Names on Malibu’s Really Coastal imprint.
This tape is incredibly jaunty and that is established quite immediately with the first song “Nature’s Over.” Scrappy guitar riffs, clusters of casio and a twee choir of voices. “Living Longer” gets twisty with a vaguely eastern melody line, pseudo-sitar and galloping percussion. In classic style, “Defined Stijls” cools things down for third track. The slower tempo allows for a more intricately zonked arrangement around the middle of the piece. A number of instruments push the limits of being discordant while still remaining pop. One of the early highlights. Elsewhere on the side, “Natural Weeds” ups the jauntiness even further with a march-like chorus. “Oh, Narcotopic Fantasy” begins, as its name implies, rather fantastically with keyboards, violin and glockenspiel. The track is notable for its complete absence of percussion; it just kinda drifts along ending in supremely euphoric style with a few brass instruments flowing freely. “I Had a Girl” by contrast focuses pretty strictly on percussiveness, though still creates one of the sweetest melodies of the side.
In my opinion, the second side is where things really congeal. “Days Elevated” is off to a good start with a crunchy Velvets-esque guitar riff. The track just barely hangs together during its two ramshackle minutes. “People Should Get More Aware” reminds me a lot of Deerhoof back when they were putting out good records 6 or 7 years ago. Noisy and driven but still full of kinetic pop touches. The Deerhoof similarity really comes out on “Production” as well. There’s a repeated circular melody for a while, before a breakdown into a lovely little march that grows in humble bombast before reverting back to the original melody. One of my favorite songs on here, for sure. The second to last song, listed as “Baggage Garbe” on the tape and “Garbage Barge” on the j-card, is one of the most straightforwardly peppy things on here, even with a wood flute in tow. The song is anchored by a fantastic keyboard part near the end. Finale “Taxicabs and Bicycles” is my favorite song on here. Its sugary chorus goes furiously for the pop jugular. Bird Names even tries to make the song a bit difficult beginning with an extended dissonant breakdown and then throwing another one in the middle of the song but, damn, you can’t that chorus. It’s too sweetly melodic to be ignored and it has a nice lilt to it too. Overall it's a cool pop album, with plenty of hooks to spare.
Sings the Browns is available on LP and CD too so I have a ton of respect for Bird Names for putting out a cassette edition as well.
By the way, Bird Names has a brand new tape on Really Coastal too

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