Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Tonight Andrew Kenny returns to town with his Austin-based combo The Wooden Birds for their second area show at TT the Bear's in just three months. The TT's stage is a very familiar one to Kenny, who played there many times with his former band, American Analog Set, and more recently as a touring member of Broken Social Scene. Had AmAnSet continued beyond the 2005 release of their last album, it's possible that subsequent visits would have necessitated a larger venue, but with their break-up/hiatus, Kenny has essentially started over from scratch. Their April show was a bit underattended (at least relative to latter-day AAS appearances), although it did precede last month's release of The Wooden Birds' debut album, "Magnolia" (on Barsuk), and the publicity and praise that followed. Here's hoping tonight sees a healthier crowd welcoming back the band with current tourmates Other Lives and the UK's Hatcham Social.
My love for the songs of American Analog Set runs very, very deep, and it took me a little while to wrap my heart and head around the new direction Kenny has taken with his Wooden Birds songwriting. While the sonics still fall on the softer side, his compositions are far different animals - keyboards have been abandoned; the vibra-ma-phone is left at home; gorgeous harmonies have been added (thanks to Leslie Sisson); and on record, a standard drum kit is largely absent, the rhythms stripped down to bare essentials. In fact, were it not for his distinctive voice and the occasional trademark guitar line, you might be hard pressed to guess this was an AK creation.
It's all extremely organic, and very precise, occasionally to a fault. In fact, it wasn't until seeing the band in April that it all clicked together for me, that I finally fell for it. I was able to stop holding them up to AAS standards and judge the songs on their own, in their rawer, less sterile form. And with not just one drummer, but a percussionist as well to help flesh things out. The inclusion of a live rendition of AmAnSet fave "Kindness of Strangers", done "Wooden Birds style" helped bridge a gap, and it all made a lot more sense. I've since come to appreciate "Magnolia" far more than on my initial listens.
With Kenny's permission, here are a few songs from their April set at TTs, including my favorite WB track ("The Other One"), and their version of "Kindness of Strangers". And don't be surprised if you hear yet another American Analog Set song tonight...
The Wooden Birds
A few songs live at T.T. the Bears Place
in Cambridge, MA on Saturday, April 18th, 2009
02. The Other One
03. The Kindness of Strangers (an AmAnSet song)
To get yourself ready for this evening, hop on over to the Ash Gray Proclamation, who have a brand new Andrew Kenny interview, and be sure to visit Luxury Wafers, who have just shared up a six-song live session, including video footage of "Sugar". More audio-visual treats: The band performing "Seven Seventeen" and "Hometown Fantasy" on a Valencian street earlier this month (via Au Agenda Urbana). Update: They Shoot Music Don't They has a couple of wonderful clips of the band performing acoustic in a Vienna park.
Upcoming Wooden Birds tourdates (all with Other Lives):
Tuesday, 6/23: Cambridge, MA @ TT The BearsListen to any and all 'Nac-hosted Mp3s at the Hype Machine.
the fine print... If anyone has an issue with these Mp3s being made available, just let me know (my contact info in the 'nac faq). Live sets recorded with a Sony ECM-719 mic and a Sony MZ-RH10 minidisc, converted to .wav and then edited to 192kbps Mp3s. Files are made available for a limited time, and are not reposted once removed.
live in cambridge, ma
on november 14th, 2008
previously: joy formidable - boston 2011
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