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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Birdland - s/t

Name: Birdland
Album: s/t
Year: 1991
Style: Dirty Brit-Pop
Similar Bands: Primal Scream, Jesus & Mary Chain, Stone Roses, Psychedelic Furs
"One Word" Review: Fuzzy-Brit-Rock
Based Out Of: Birmingham, UK
Label: Radioactive Records, MCA, UNI Distribution Corp.
Birdland Image on Tape Cover (by Tom Sheehan)
Birdland Image inside tape (by Kevin Westenberg)
Birdland Liner Notes & Tape (by Tim Paton)
Birdland (1991)
  1. Shoot You Down (3:12) (youtube video)
  2. Sleep With Me (3:50) (youtube video)
  3. Don't Look Back (4:58)
  4. Paradise (2:35)
  5. Wake Up Dreaming (2:37)
  6. Rock N Roll Nigger (6:27)/
  7. Everybody Needs Somebody (3:42)
  8. Letter You Know (4:09)
  9. Beat Me Like A Star (4:11)
  10. She Belongs To Me (3:32)
  11. Hollow Heart (2:19) (youtube video)
  12. Exit (5:42)
Album Rating (1-10):

Band Members & Other Bands:
Robert Vincent- vox (Zodiac Motel, Torn Bloody Poetry)
Lee Vincent - guitars (Zodiac Motel, Capriccio, Psychic Drive)
Simon (Syd) Rodgers - Bass
Neil Hughes - Drums
Gene Kale - Drums (Zodiac Motel)
Philip Tennant - Producer & Engineer
Paul Sampson - Producer & Engineer
Wayne Morris - Executive Producer
Stephen Marcussen - Mastering
Ronald Morris - Management
Triad Artists - Agency
Vartan - Art Direction
Kosh Brooks Design - Design
Tom Sheehan - Cover
Kevin Westerburg - Studio Photo
Tim Paton - Beach Photo
Taki Ono - Japanese Tour Poster

Unknown-ness: This far removed from purchasing the tape, I do not remember how I heard of Birdland, or why I bought the tape. I can only guess that I heard one of their songs somewhere...most likely on a CMJ Music Monthly compilation, and soon after, I saw this tape for sale. It has been a very long time since I heard the tape, so I forgot what to expect. So, based on the look of the young blond kids wrapped up in the US flag, I was expecting some kind of angsty Brit-Pop. The inside image reminds me of Suede, so I was ready for a thick, dreamy sound.

Album Review: The album has all the fuzz and catchy rock hooks to make them a clear contender for dictionary definition for a 90's Brit-pop band. The first song, "Shoot You Down" feels so very familiar, I think it sounds like Psychedelic Fur's "Pretty In Pink." It has a very catchy chorus of "Shoot You Down" plus a great earlier, fake chorus of "Waiting For You" which is sung along the same melodic line. It has a great build up going into the chorus, and it lets you down gently. The thick sounding guitar, and quick paced, call back vocals make this a true anthemic pop single. Track 2, "Sleep With Me" presents its poppy-hook with a combination of the bass + guitar interacting and guiding each other. The chorus reminds me of a lighter version of a Sex Pistols song. At the same time, it feels like a modernized, fuzzed-out oldie. The song ends in an exhausted whoosh. "Don't Look Back" has a driving drum beat, and shady-sly British vocals. The chorus is a repetitive chant of the title. The song builds with aggression to near shouting, elements that make punk exciting, but this still comes off as rock. As it ends, everything builds louder musically then completely shuts-down. A quick fade in and out fuzz-guitar teaser comes and goes, and the next song is off and running. "Paradise" is another quick paced song. The bass & drum track carry it along with the all-too familiar British (pseudo punk) rock melodies creating the hooks, along with Bap Bap Bada-Bada's. "Wake up Dreaming" is a song seeped in that alternative guitar sound that sounds as if its being played inside a steel drum. The main chanted chorus is repeated relentlessly "if I see that girl tonight." Rock N' Roll Nigger (apparently a Patti Smith cover) begins as a slow anthemic drudging march. It picks up a with bouncy guitar, and quickened drum pace, and launches into an angry speed ballad, shouting the lyrics, almost unintelligibly. Throw in the guitar solo, and you've completed your criteria for a ballad.

Side 2 starts with a Futureheads sounding intro, until the Psych Furs guitars pick up, and the gruff & choppy, pseudo-punk vocals come in. The chorus melody of "Everybody Needs Somebody" is quite catchy, and as in all the songs, simple and repetitive. The singer shows a very interesting break in his normal vocal caricature in the follow-up phrase 'What did you do to her?,' specifically in the word 'Do.' It is a cute almost pubescent squeak, which adds depth which was not there before. "Letter to You" starts out as a boring alternative throw-away song, better suited for the Gin Blossoms. The chorus is not bad, but it does not fit on the album with its lack of quality. A spacey, echo-guitar loop starts "Beat Me Like A Star." It picks up on powerful anthemic qualities in its declaration throughout. The tempo slows down mid-song, re-evaluating itself, and then marches back into the proud verse and chorus combo. It ends with the repetitive chanting 'I'm Coming On' and the guitar quietly slinks away to end it. "She Belongs to Me" is a quick paced pop song, set in motion with the loud guitar hook that repeats a couple of times through out the song. The jealous tone of the song's lyrics is not echoed in its delivery. Instead the singer sounds like he is just happy to be with the girl, rather than feeling threatened by other guys. "Hollow Heart" is an extremely fast, quick pop-punk number. It loops itself up and down along its 3-chord musical scale. The final song begins like a Ted Leo number. The mix of slight Irish music with rock. It then becomes a jangly rock number, same familiar sounding alternative guitar, and a spoken word-like verse. The song then morphs into a U2 song. The chorus is very good: "We were so wild that year." It is a short chorus, but very catchy, and the music is built up all around it, as if that line alone was to be placed on a pedestal.

The album is very solid. All the songs are very listenable, and with the one exception, very cohesive. It has the dirty club rock sound and fuzz that was very popular in the early 90's, where sloppy play was the norm. It is a shame, having read their history, that their career fizzled out before it really took off. Such is life for some unfortunate bands.

"Stand Out" Track:

1 comment:

  1. Birdland were awsome. If only people had listened we wouldn't be in the boring musical state we are now. The END.