11 May 2007

Bowerbirds

Frequent readers of Ear Farm will know by now that this is not one of the many music blogs that sources its content directly from press releases. Raise an eyebrow if you didn't know it, but many of the more well known sites out there do little more than copy and paste from the PR emails they get. I know they do it, I get the very same emails. Add to this the fact that the majority of the music these folks are pimping equates to not much more than the very same kind of copycatting and you just might shed a tear yearning for the days gone by. The simple days of nothing but live shows, radio, and 78s. Yes, it's a boring and uninspired world out there people, but it's by no means something to whine about. After all, yesterday I received one of these previously mentioned PR email blasts about North Carolina's Bowerbirds and knew immediately that I'd be using said email as a launching pad for a post about this band. This is, in fact, long overdue.

From the PR email:

NC-based duo/somtimes trio Bowerbirds will release its debut album, Hymns for a Dark Horse on the newly formed Raleigh/Durham-based record label Burly Time on July 10. The band will also be playing shows with The Rosebuds, Ladybug Transistor and The Clientele over the next few weeks.

Indicative of the music they make, Bowerbirds were born of unequal parts conflict and sweetness. Phil Moore and Mark Paulson had moved east from Iowa to form a band. Phil met Beth Tacular—a collected and published painter—while they worked together in a grocery store. Beth’s marriage was failing, and she saw something special in Phil. Not long before their band collapsed on tour somewhere in Alabama, Phil and Beth moved in together. They painted pictures and wrote songs and sang them. They started Bowerbirds and asked Mark to join them whenever possible.

They’ve toured the country once in a minivan, playing small clubs and coffee shops and street corners that welcome them, then camping beneath the stars with pleasure. They live in an Airstream trailer in the woods in Chatham County, North Carolina, and they’re ecstatic. As built on the belief that our limited earth (“In Our Talons”) is as sacred as the unlimited love that we can find within it (“Human Hands”), Bowerbirds make acoustic music that feels good and aware and powerful and hopeful. And yes, they know nothing should be all of those things anymore.

"My favorite new band in forever" - John Darnielle
What is most important to note here, as with anything featured on this site, is the music. Bowerbirds aren't your typical PR-push indie band, and they're not likely to find their way onto sites that are lazy about the music they write about. For you see, Bowerbirds make songs that climb inside your mind and your heart and latch on. Theirs is a world of beauty and harmony and mother nature and creation, but also of melancholy and darkness and pain. Listening to their songs I'm reminded of some of the work of William Blake for some reason. Not his overly Christian stuff per se, but some of his Dante watercolors... or perhaps similarly themed art from other Romantic artists... or even that Hieronymus Bosch piece called "The Garden of Earthly Delights". Art that speaks to strong emotion as a source of aesthetic experience and views humans as but a small part of the greater whole that is our planet. Bowerbirds write songs that appear to fit nicely within this artistic sensibility, songs that offer the universal comfort that comes from having experienced sadness and lived to sing about it. Songs that speak to my personal desire to treat music the same way I do a good book; that is, to curl up with a good record (and some wine) next to a fire and let the music and lyrics lead the way. Hey, don't knock it until you've tried it.

I'd imagine that fans of Devendra Banhardt, The Rosebuds, The Decemberists, Magnetic Fields, Red House Painters, and the like, will be very pleased with what they find in the music of Bowerbirds. There's plenty of melodic Earth love in the form of male/female singing, accordian playing, guitar strumming, and random percussion for even the most thirsty music loving hippie to be sated, but the real beauty of what Bowerbirds bring to the table is in the fact that fans of a wide variety of musical styles are likely to find something to enjoy in their songs. In fact, if you're a fan of The Rosebuds you'll be happy to hear that Bowerbirds are going on a brief tour with them (see below) which includes a stop here in NYC in a few weeks at Bowery Ballroom. I, for one, can't wait. Yes, I'm in their talons now and they're never letting go. Fine by me.

Listen:
"Dark Horse"
"In Our Talons"

Visit Bowerbirds on MySpace

Buy their debut album Hymns for a Dark Horse HERE

See Bowerbirds live:
May 10 Carrboro, NC Cat’s Cradle*
May 18 Asheville, NC Grey Eagle #
May 19 Raleigh, NC Bickett Gallery
May 22 Washington, DC Rock and Roll Hotel #
May 23 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda’s #
May 24 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom %
June 23 Raleigh, NC Rock and Shop Market
June 30 Chapel Hill, NC The Blend
July 17 Carrboro, NC Nightlight

* = w/ Clientele, Ladybug Transistor
# = w/ The Rosebuds
% = w/ The Rosebuds, Ladybug Transistor

Also, in the spirit of full disclosure I should mention that I went to high school with one of the members of the band (Beth) and, in the spirit of helping spread the word for a friend, I'd like to mention that she's a very talented artist in addition to being a wonderful musician. If you enjoy the music of Bowerbirds you should also check out her artwork when you have a moment.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

i saw this band on pitchfork a while ago, theyre music is excellent

Anonymous said...

This band reminds me of camping.

Anonymous said...

Happy camping. Yes, I was a happy camper. I really like this music.

nghia said...

good point on the PR business

César said...

so good, thanks for posting this.

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