Philly’s Freshman Class of 2011: White Birds

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White Birds
Photo by Kyle [BITBY] Costill • bandsinthebackyard.com

Hazy, fuzz-pop trio White Birds might be a new kid on the scene, having played its very first show just two months ago—but the band has already proven it has the chops to make it big. Which is no surprise, considering all three members previously logged time in Drink Up Buttercup, a zany psych-pop act known for its pounding circus beats and frantic stage show. Sadly, Drink Up Buttercup called it quits back in June, but three of the four members (James Harvey, Farzad Houshiarnejad, and Mike Cammarata) quickly re-formed as White Birds, a change they attribute to changing tastes and the desire to expand their sound. (Bassist Ben Mazzochetti did not join White Birds, citing different visions.)

With White Birds, we see the city’s much-loved hooligans growing up, and offering a mature and refined sound. Think of White Birds as the Abbey Road to Drink Up’s Magical Mystery Tour: it’s elegant, whimsical, and dreamy where the latter was quirky, trippy, and playful. And much like Drink Up, it’s accompanied by an exuberant live show that’s just as fun to watch as it is to listen to. Since forming, the band has won over crowds at Pianos and Glasslands in NYC, and scored an opening spot for poppy shoegazers Asobi Seksu on an upcoming tour. I originally fell in love with White Birds when I heard the first single “Hondura,” a sun-drenched, harmony-laden vintage groove. Since then, the band has prepared a self-titled cassette of four songs, including “Hondura,” the excellent “Bee Hive” (a fuzzy slow jam whose echo-y harmonies swarm like bees around the beat), and the dreamy ’60s charmer “Floating Hands.” The cassette will be available in a limited run on September 23; for now, you can stream the whole thing via Bandcamp. You can also catch the guys live Saturday, September 17, opening for Purples at Johnny Brenda’s. —Kate Bracaglia of Underwater Explosions.

  • Anonymous

    Nice write up.  It’s tough to accurately describe sounds, but “a sun-drenched, harmony-laden vintage groove” and “a fuzzy slow jam whose echo-y harmonies swarm like bees around the beat” do a great job of painting the respective songs. Not sure that video clip does the band much good though.

    This album is infectious and dreamy. There’s a quote in the documentary that comes with Bruce Springsteen’s latest box release (The Promise) that I think does a great job describing the “magic” of this first White Birds release. Bruce had been unhappy with all mixing attempts for The Darkness on the Edge of town, so he brought in a new guy who nailed the sound Bruce was going for. He described the key to it as something like getting the vocals toned down a level where you had to listen just a little harder than normal to understand them. That was the sweet spot for the Boss and I think the same is true for this album. If you’re willing to invest just a little more effort in listening, you’re continually rewarded as the lyrics unfold.

  • Bandsinthebackyard

    check out WHITE BIRDS new  BITBY session this friday on http://www.bandsinthebackyard.com

    PHOTO Above by Kyle Costill [BITBY}