CD: My Bloodless Wife
ARTIST: It's Birds
When it comes to evaluating art -- music, film, messed up barbecue pits -- it’s been argued that a piece can and should stand on its own; that comparing, say, a new CD to previous works can be largely irrelevant. That’s good for us, because we’re starting fresh with It’s Birds recently released nine-song sophomore CD My Bloodless Wife.
The Morgantown-based math rockers follow up 2007’s Horses Love Me Yes I Am (which we didn’t hear) with more confounding time signatures, chord progressions that sound like M.C. Escher staircases look, and lyrical absurdity -- just look at the song titles.
The band (Brian Spragg: guitar/vocals; Andrew Slater: bass/vocals; George Zatezalo: guitar; and Jason Birch: drums), influenced by the likes of King Crimson, Fugazi, and Dismemberment Plan, sucks it all in and spits it out as their own unique version of version of post-punk, prog-rock or, whatever they want to call it, “hard math,” maybe. Fat, punchy bass walks underneath the weird time changes and riffs in the verses, leading to frenetic, hook-filled, heavy chorus and jammed out bridge parts, displaying a quirky, experimental bent throughout.
“Spy Gear Website” kicks off the CD with ethereal, dirty, hard stomping riffs over what sounds like morse code, with lyrics about sentimental, half-eaten Twix bars, and spying on a chick with binoculars bought on a spy gear website. Those can get expensive.
The dreamy, minute-long song fragment/intro part “We Want and Want to Have Our Cakes” sounds like an unfinished thought. “Gina Lollobrigida” has quirky, dreamy noodling verse parts with heavy, kicked out retro rock sounding jams; a song about Gina, and something involving a doctor:
“The right will be the one I let go/Don’t give me time to change my mind, so/Let’s call the doctor let’s get this done/You sure you’ll want me more with just one?”The standout track, “The AIDS and the Bees” has a marching post-punk sound that reminds us of a song off that At the Drive-In we had like 10 years ago, with cool lo-fi guitar breaks and blips, instant rock is had.
“I’m in Love with Warren Forest” is apparently not about an actual person, so if your name is Warren Forest, sorry. Cool song though.
A great example of the complex, yet approachable vibe It’s Birds rocks out is “Understand the Silverware but Why the Dog?” -- runner-up to “AIDS and the Bees” not only in Bloodless Wife standout track mention, but, the WVRockscene Most Absurd Song Title of 2010, a category It’s Birds might sweep this year.
“Sean Balad” is It’s Birds’ seven-minute space jam ode to Sean, who, tragically, was stuck down by lightning at a young age. Hope it’s not a true story. Essh. At a little over three minutes in, the band breaks down into distorted, heavenly awesomeness. Taken as a whole, it’s almost like the band could drop the absurd lyrics and singing altogether, take up an instrumental, experimental approach, and maybe draw out or expose what they’re going for musically.
While the songs aren’t exactly simple, structurally, it’s mainly the verses that have the weird time changes and the band breaks it all down with simpler, hard rocking chorus parts, and they’re funky and catchy enough to definitely keep things interesting.
My Bloodless Wife, recorded in-house (literally) by the capable Spragg and shipped off to David Klug in Pittsburgh for mixing and mastering, is a CD that should be listened to with headphones. It’s times like this we’re glad we ran that crowbar through the WVRockscene home stereo/DVD player back in 2009. You can tell Spragg spent some time in his bedroom, tweaking and stabbing little parts like a DJ, laying echo on top of vocals.
Zatezalo and Spragg might seem to be doing their own thing on guitar half the time, but bring it together for the rockin’ chorus/jam parts; there’s a method to the sound of their madness. Spragg and Slater sharing the singing (and songwriting) duties mixes things up nicely.
The rhythm section stands out, too; the bass is full, punchy and fat on most of the songs, and the drums, well, they get beat with on with ferocity in parts, and it all sounds live, loud, and clear.
It’s Birds’ sound is at once challenging, unique, and fun. Don’t let the “math” part fool you; whatever rock and roll is about, It’s Birds get whatever “it” is. But is there a ringing endorsement to be found in this review?
It’s Birds -- more fun than a bunch of math problems!
Related: Our chat with Brian Spragg of It’s Birds