Saturday, March 1, 2014

Review: Black Birds of Paradise

          Ever since I first heard Black Birds of Paradise cover Washington Phillips’ song “I Had a Good Father and Mother” on There is No One I wished they had more of a catalogue. Tonight marks the release of their first full length release, a DIY self-titled LP pressed by the drummer himself.

            Since their only other track before now was the upbeat summer-y song “I Love You (But I Don’t Know Why)” on Gubbey’s Head Cleaner compilation, I was pleasantly surprised with the needle-drop opener “Future Man,” which is reminiscent of a Sergio Leone score with Scott Carney on Theremin. The heavy bass and steady ride imply a sinister, mischievous presence.
One of the things that sets Black Birds of Paradise aside from other young rock bands right off the bat is Regan Layman, who plays vibraphone, percussion, and sings backup. Throughout the whole album, her textures and frequencies add a depth to the sound that plays a large part in shaping the tune around them. “Exotica” is an instrumental track torn between Regan’s vibraphone solos and Nick Layman’s synth styles. Despite the song’s major key and more positive demeanor, there’s a tension between the two that is really special.
Right in the middle of the record, the entire band backs out for a quieter, more somber acoustic song titled “The Way, The Truth, The Light.” This only accentuates the band’s diversity by providing contrast to the following louder more aggressive “Pour a Drink.”

With their first release, Black Birds of Paradise have proved that they are capable of effortlessly playing a wide range of musical styles without compromising or betraying their vision. Let’s hope their second album has the same charm. Come out to the New Vintage tonight for the release party with Lady Pyramid and Murals.

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