Review: Basement Birds, Bundle 3

Bundle 3
Image Courtesy of iTunes

Part of me is a little sad that the third bundle marks the final release from Basement Birds, and not only because it will give me less to blog about. I’ve been more genuinely excited about this band than any other over the past couple of months and once the full album is released (yesterday) and the tour is over that’s it – the boys will go back to their respective bands and we’ll here no more from the Basement Birds (probably).

The third and final digital bundle from the band breaks from tradition and features four tracks, “Cinnamon and Smoke”, “All That I Feel”, “Ghosts” and “Hamilton Hill”. Once again the 70’s folk-rock influences are all there, however this bundle feels a lot looser than the last couple and definitely has a “jam-band” feel.

“Cinnamon and Smoke” once again takes the band into Crosby, Stills and Nash territory with bluesy harmonies and a rollicking beat. Kevin Mitchell writes on the Basement Birds blog “Hopefully [Cinnamon and Smoke] gives you, the listener, a sense of what it was really like in the recording studio when all of us were in there together” which I think is bang on. The band have kept the production of this song pretty raw with all the bumps and giggles left in for great effect. I’m a huge fan of the clapping drum beat and when the song descends in farce with the boys improv over the honky-tonk piano you know they must have just had so much fun recording this.

“All That I Feel” is one of the band’s slower songs and stands out as a result. While heartbreak seems to be a recurring theme across many of the Basement Birds songs in the past it has been coupled with a sweetness or catchy tune. But this time the melancholy of the lyrics informs the melancholy of the music and you have a sad sad song as a result.

“Ghosts” once again sees what should essentially be a Josh Pyke song pulled out and given the Basement Birds treatment. Something about this song makes me think of Pyke’s track “Middle of the Hill” probably because of the volume of lyrics and the non-linear chord progressions in the verses. But while the Pyke-ness of this song is overwhelmingly obvious the man is one of Australia’s best songwriters and this track is up their with his best.

“Hamilton Hill” is the first and only instrumental from the Basement Birds. It’s a nice, free flowing exercise into 70s fingerpicking and slide guitar. The track would not have been out of place on the Almost Famous soundtrack or that of some other Cameron Crowe film. While not a standout (and at under 2 minutes hardly even a full track) it’s probably the perfect way to round out the final release from the boys.

Overall a more solid outing than the previous bundle but still not as good as the first. The physical form of the album is promising one more unreleased song but other than that I think is the perfect way to finish up what has been a great set of releases from Australia’s best supergroup. Here’s hoping the popularity of the bundles convinces the boys to get together for a second album some time down the track.

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