Monday, 9 August 2010

Tweak Bird - Tweak Bird (Souterrain Transmissions)

This self titled album from the Illinois based brother pairing of Tweak Bird is their first album proper - and what a way to introduce yourself to the world. It is twenty-seven minutes of unadulterated psychedelic, progressive rock madness; gritty, raw guitars, pounding drums and sci-fi-esque blips and beeps that sound like they’re about to beam you to another planet. For a two piece consisting purely of drums and baritone guitar, with very little more than a saxophone solo and hint of flute to add to the mix, they make one hell of a noise. 

However amongst all this madness Tweak Bird can really write a song. First single off the album ‘A Sun/ Ahh Ahh’ has catchy vocal hooks aplenty. Caleb Bird’s voice is delicate and almost childlike at times, singing about all things interplanetary (a common theme throughout the whole album). His vocals sit on top of the drum/ guitar combination comfortably; not too bold to overpower, but not so weak that they get lost. At the end of the song there is a saxophone solo that is simple but effective, emphasised by the fact that the guitar drops out to give it space. (This isn’t the only unexpected solo on the album, there is a flute solo on ‘Flyin’ High’ that is only a couple of steps away from sounding like it’s from a Jethro Tull track.) The rest of the album follows the same feel, occasionally getting slightly heavier with songs like ‘Lights In Lines’ and ‘The Future,’ and a touch more sedate with ‘Distant Airways.’ For me though, the highlight of the album has to be ‘Round Trippin.’ Lasting not much more than a minute, thirty seconds in the song is played backwards and those sci-fi sounds come back into play. It’s perfectly short, but oh so sweet. 

The great thing for me about Tweak Bird is that nothing they do sounds particularly forced. They do some quite mad and ‘out there’ things in their songs, but I don’t think they’ve done it because they want to be different or push boundaries. It sounds like they have done these things because they know that the end product will be better for it. They are not afraid to pay homage to something that has been done before, whether it’s a saxophone solo ala Pink Floyd, flute solo like Jethro Tull or reversing a record like every Zeppelin fan that wants to hear the ‘hidden message’ in Stairway to Heaven. For its full twenty-seven minutes Tweak Bird is a very good album, it’s just a pity it’s all over so quickly… 7/10

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