Before I get to the overthought, overwrought review, let me just clear my throat . . . Birdmonsterfuckingrocks! Ahem. Thank you.
Lots of folks will recall that Birdmonster’s debut album, “No Midnight,” was one of the best indie rock albums of 2005. It roared into the sky, exploding with promise and passion. Bloggers loved it, and it was an instant success. The band’s
follow-up, “From the Mountain to the Sea” released digitally this month, with a September physical release date to come. So, if their first record was so good, why aren’t you hearing about their second album?
Well, there’s a couple reasons. First, the record is not groundbreaking. Unlike “No Midnight,” the band doesn’t punch you in the face with its power. The album is not a fierce announcement of the band’s arrival. It can’t be, really, because they’ve already established themselves. That alone cools the reception to many sophomore releases. Moreover, it’s 2008. What was a cool new sound in ’05 has now established itself as a genre on satellite radio stations and is featured on Gray’s Anatomy.
Second, the record was recorded by Tom Schick, who has worked with Ryan Adams, Norah Jones, and Rufus Wainwright. Mr. Schick has injected a strong Americana accent into the proceedings. Although a close listen to “No Midnight” might reveal traces of
this influence, here it is brought out to a much greater degree. Bloggers don’t go apeshit for Americana these days. They rarely ever did, except when it came to Ryan Adams and maybe Drive-By Truckers. It’s not a genre that speaks to most college-aged or college-minded music fans. It’s not risky. Bloggers dig it, but they don’t go nuts over
Notice that “it’s not good” is not a reason accounting for the reception given to “From The Mountain To The Sea.” In fact, the album is quite good. The vocals are still passionate, powerful, and cool without being slick. The piano work is still subtle, adding flourish and detail to the excellent rhythm section and the tight, focused hooks. This is an example of a band that feels comfortable toning it down on their second album. In that way, it’s a lot like the underrated second Counting Crows album, “Angels of the Silence.” The songs are less catchy, the sound is more familiar but not instantly gratifying, and the record as a whole requires more time to digest. On repeated listens, the songs grow and become stuck in the listener’s head. Good Americana is less cerebral and more emotional, but in a laid back way. It doesn’t scream at you, it sits next to you and quietly unfolds.
And Birdmonster has a permanent reserved seat on my porchswing.
I Might Have Guessed
Born To Be Your Man
And a classic BM tune:
No Midnight (acoustic version)
Time of the Season-My Morning Jacket