Tweak Bird – Tweak Bird

Release Date 30/08/2010 (Souterrain Transmissions)

By Paul Robinson

The Tweak Bird MySpace site describes their music as ‘Everything  good you’ve never heard.’  I couldn’t agree more. I happened to check a review of them in a recent issue of Stool Pigeon and that whetted my appetite to check em out. Lo and behold their debut long player pops through my letterbox. Since then it hasn’t been off the stereo. I love this record.

What’s it like though?? Yeah, yeah, I’m getting to that. Context first. Tweak Bird are duo Caleb and Ashton Bird, hailing from the Carbondale area of rural (lots of trees) Illinois. The brothers have been  playing music together for over 10 years, so it’s been a slow burn getting to this debut album.  Home schooled, they formed a close musical bond to the exclusion of outsiders – a fact emphasised as they reveal they have had 9 drummers in 6 years before Ashton finally started drumming himself and Tweak Bird were formed in the incarnation that remains today. That said, collaborations are not dismissed by the duo as the debut album features some contributions from sax player John McGowan (as featured on the single “The Sun/Ahh Ahh”).

I love it when you put on a new album without having heard any of the music before.  As the first few bars of lead-off track, “The Future”  open , I’m sold. Great chugging riffs pump forth, but the real surprise is the sweet, totally disarming, vocal from Caleb Bird that accompanies it. It sort of reminds me of the pop harmonies of Belle and Sebastian or T-Rex circa 21st Century Boy.  Then on Round Trippin’  the style changes again, it’s a full on riff assault. But if you can imagine a collaboration with  the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, you’re almost there.

On “Beyond”, Ashton’s favourite track (it says in the press release), the sound is a little more conventional. There’s a rush of pure adrenaline, but the vocal spreads a cheerful optimism. “Go anywhere you want to. Go on, go on. Forget what they want of you.”

My favourite, though, is “Tunneling Through”, a pure Nebula style riff with some powerhouse drumming.  It’s not all chugga chugga riffs mind. There’s some ethereal  moments, lost sixties psychedelia and some great 60s pop influences.  “Flyin High” has some folky flute accents lilting above the crunchy guitar groove.

The album is produced by Dale Crover and Toshi Yasai of the Melvins, who worked on 2008’s mini-album Reservations, and it seems pretty clear to me that if you like the Melvins and Big Business, you’re gonna love Tweak Bird.

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