Two Dark Birds
Two Dark Birds ( Vfib Recordings, 2008 )
Unslushed because: Handsome package printed on uncoated stock. Cool type. Smelled pretty good. Recorded in Brooklyn. Band credits include what looks like a lot of friends pitching in: In addition to the guitar, bass, and drums, there’s lap steel, Wurlitzer, Rhodes, banjo, strings. Lots of backing vocals.
Factors not initially considered: Front man and principal songwriter is Steve Koester, also of the band Koester. I hadn’t heard Koester’s music before, but he recorded a record with Al Weatherhead at Sound of Music in Richmond a few years before my band, Thunderegg, did. So he’s kind of family.
On further review: Nice, laid-back rock record with a ’70s feel, recorded in a lush but not-too-busy style, reminiscent a little of the more recent Dylan productions. Influences include Sound of Music founder David Lowery and Neil Young; Sparklehorse is also a touchstone, especially in the vocal harmonies and the way the mic is sometimes right up on Koester’s mouth. My favorite songs are probably “Blown,” a great road-trip groove, and “Pernod Blues,” which channels On the Beach-era Neil. Quieter tracks like “My Mother the Stereo” and “Ash and Sadness” are lovely too. Put this on the next time you’re hanging out with old friends and have a bottle of good bourbon.