Review: Basement Birds, Bundle Two

Bundle Two
Image Courtesy of iTunes

From what I’ve been reading about the Basement Birds part of the reason they’ve decided to release their album online as three separate bundles is because they wrote and recorded it that way – over three separate sessions. And while the band will be releasing the full album on 16th July I think they made the write decision splitting it into three.

The second bundle, containing the tracks “Holly”, “Hardest Part” and “Heartache on the Radio”, has a distinctly different sound to the first. The same influences are there (all three tracks are still banjo and acoustic guitar heavy) but whereas the first bundle was a full of folk-pop goodness the second is heavy on the 70s Americana rock invoking The Eagles, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Bruce Springsteen and of course Dylan.

“Holly” in particular captures this 70s sound. There’s a Billy Joel melody hiding in the chorus. “Born to Run” can be heard through the strains of Kav Temperley’s voice. And the harmonies are textbook Crosby, Stills and Nash. Beginning with a simple acoustic guitar the track builds with the addition of piano, harmonica, rhythm section and vocals unlike it turns into a rollicking love song you could imagine being played on a jukebox somewhere in middle America. The lap-steel guitar adds the final, perfect element to the track sealing it’s place as the band’s most American sounding song to date.

To me “Hardest Part” sounds like it should have been a Josh Pyke track. The opening chord progression (along with Pyke’s voice) wouldn’t sound out of place on Chimney’s Afire or Memories & Dust. The harmonies and piano arrangement (along with the second verse sung by Temperley) pull the song into Basement Birds territory but Pyke’s solo sound is all over this track. Which isn’t a bad thing considering how talented the man is. My only complaint with “Hardest Part” is the lap-steel solo: It seems a little forced and a little amateurish. But the song comes together at the end and is another strong showing for the boy.

“Heartache on the Radio” is probably the poppiest track on the bundle. I also think it’s the most lackluster of all seven songs released by the boys so far. The lyrics are a little self conscious and contrived in their irony. The production is also a little muddier than the other songs (maybe to truly capture that 70s sound?) which doesn’t really suit the band’s individual voices. But still a good song and if this is the worst the Basement Birds can do then I’m more than a little excited to see how they’re going to round out the third bundle.

All in all another strong showing from the Basement Birds. Not nearly as catchy as the first bundle but still very solid. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

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