A new and undiscovered band generally has several obstacles to overcome in order to break into the music scene. There’s the lack of money factor, which can restrict access to a quality recording experience, thus resulting in albums that sound like they’ve been recorded either underwater or in a mud hut somewhere. There’s also the fact that there are practically 10 million other bands at any given time that are also scrambling to get discovered – hence the multiple friend requests on MySpace per week from hard-core metal bands in Alabama with names like Squishy Land Mass or Save Me from Monday. Lastly, music fans can be rather picky and unforgiving, so bands often can’t afford to give a bad performance or distribute a less-than-stellar CD lest they ruin their reputation forever – I still can’t forget once having to sit through a band’s awful set which left me wanting to rip out my eardrums and/or dunk my head into boiling acid. When a band manages to overcome these complications, however, and produce music that is a worthy listen, it makes their efforts and talent all the more respectable. On that note, may I introduce Birdmonster, who have just released a marvelously rocktastic album.
Currently tearing up the scene in San Francisco, Peter Arcuni (guitar, lead vocals), David Klein (guitar, piano), Justin Tenuto (bass, banjo), and Zach Winter (drums, cello) display remarkable talent in this full-length record. While the album is sometimes weighed down by a less polished production value and occasionally unremarkable lyrics, the pure and unpretentious nature of the music makes up for it. Taking the listener from one end of the spectrum to the other in the course of one song, Birdmonster’s creations are multilayered, decisively structured, and passionate. Try to picture what would happen if you periodically electro-shocked Modest Mouse into a raw-boned and wailing rock frenzy, and you might have an idea of Birdmonster’s sound. Even then, Birdmonster is relatively original in this LP, creating song styles that are lively and fresh. Some gems of note are “Balcony,” with poignant and fiery tones, “Cause You Can,” a veritable mishmash of energy with a layered echo of instrumentation, “No Midnight,” an acoustic, alt-country delight that grows with intensity, and “Spaceman,” the upbeat closing number that transitions into a casual jam-like session. “What’s With Your Brain?”, “All the Holes in the Walls,” and “Ball of Yarn” are also strong contenders and are fairly comparable to the likes of Built to Spill with their guitar-heavy, resonating tones. The group, overall, boasts solid and confident instrumentation along with Arcuni’s commendable vocals, which range from a whisper to a wail to a falsetto without skipping a beat, often compared to those of Jersey’s favorite son, “The Boss.”
One of the most admirable qualities of this CD is the range of musical style that the band manages to incorporate without going overboard. Some songs project a continuous wall of sound that will bring out the headbanger in all of us, while others are interspersed with gentler acoustics and softer beats. Additionally, subtle instances in other songs include hints of scrappy, folksy rhythms (yay banjo!) and pop-rock buoyancy (and do I even hear hints of psychobilly!?). And while there is a great risk of sounding unfocused and messy when attempting such an array of style, Birdmonster surpasses this by always bringing themselves back to a centered point of straight-up rock and roll. Considering the fact that the band comprises four young men who chose to self-release their first full-length album (therefore using their own judgment and experiences to pull it off), this balance of sound and style paired with DIY effort is an enormous accomplishment. In fact, I would go as far as to say that some who love rock and roll a little too much may have to invest in some adult diapers after listening to No Midnight in all its glory (or something less gross). Either way, Birdmonster deserves all the fame that’s soon to be coming to them.
Modest Mouse – Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Built to Spill – There’s Nothing Wrong With Love
The Oxford Collapse – A Good Ground