release date: May 12th, 2009
The Wooden Birds is a side project of American Analog Set's Andrew Kinney. When I first received this CD in the mail from Barsuk, I didn't have much desire to listen to it. But after reading through the press release, I caught the mention of Lymbyc Systym drummer, Michael Bell. Lymbyc Systym is one of my favorite instrumental rock groups, and Michael Bell is one of the main reasons. Precision drumming is easy to talk about, and easier to listen to, but isn't easy to perform. When I see Michael Bell play, my eyes roll back in my head. He is magnificent. Any project he's attached to is something I will make a point to listen to.
So when I heard the soft, acoustic songs on Magnolia, it took me by surprise. I could barely make out the percussion on this album. But that's not to say that The Wooden Birds aren't worth hearing. This is probably the closest to Elliott Smith we'll ever get without performing bodily resurrection. For proof, just check the top song on the Lala player to the right.
Seven Seventeen is simple melodies, simple harmonies, and encapsulating emotion. The lyrics are clear and easy, but deeper feelings of indiscretion and youthfulness carry the weight. Magnolia features quiet songs, but they're never boring. I can't explain why such simple formulas continue to work, but chill music persists. The Wooden Birds join the ranks of Elliott Smith, Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird and Neko Case as music for slow summer afternoons in the country. Whether you're on the porch, in the barn or in a city coffee shop, Magnolia will sound just right.
If I haven't proven my case enough, let me drop one more name. Ola Podrida also contributes acoustic beauty on Magnolia. If you've ever seen a David Gordon Green film (hopefully you have.), you've heard Ola Podrida's stark, sad compositions. Combine Ola Podrida with Andrew Kinney and one half of Lymbyc Systym, and we have loveliness. I guess that's how it goes when multiple talents come together for a common goal!
This is music that probably won't get much hype. It won't be Pitchfork's 'Best New Music' and it probably won't even get reviewed in Rolling Stone. But it's a lovely album. If you need some new music for quiet afternoon reading, check out The Wooden Birds' Magnolia.