Friday, June 19, 2015

Up From the Underground : Magnificent Birds of Prey

The opener  of this Philly based oddity's new album is both more surreal and heavier than I anticipated.  While many genres come into collision over wandering the course of the album, they lean towards more of an 70s acid- rock feel to mixed with some of the atmosphere indulged upon by the more cerebral grunge bands that didn't hit the radio the 90s like Mindfunk or Scatterbrain. At times the vocals have a tender quality bringing to mind Genesis era Peter Gabriel.  Despite the sometime angular jangle to "Icon"  the vocals that go into a throaty roar and the driving bass line keeps this in a firm hard rock vein. They walk an odd line between traditional rock and Police like new wave on "Can't Wash My Soul"with slight punk inflections in the vocals, but the guitar solos are straight up rock.

The vocals return to the more tender place on "Writing Every Thing Away" while the guitar jerks around the vocals and the drums roll more adventurously around the proceedings much like a prog band, until it returns to bouncy up beat verse. The first song where the lyrics really stand out to me is "Stormtrooper Blues" which is written a from the perspective of  one of Darth Vader's minions who finds himself having second thoughts after his vacation request gets denied. The guitars tend to be slathered in an i array of digital delays creating an almost bubbling quality. This keeps a dreamy juxtaposition to the vocals that always gravitate to a huskier blues based rock tone.  The use of backing vocals is the most punk element to most of the songs, since punk rock never indulges in the sort of effects that makes up sound of these birds of prey.

I am more entranced by the smooth surreal jazzy undertones they take on during  "Statue". This allows the vocals more room to wander and allowing their chops to flourish. "Seven" is a more modern take on Jimi Hendrix, until the vocal croon comes in and the rest of the band goes off into funk dabbling prog punk. This is one of the album's harder songs and gives the drummer room to flex his talents. They glide on cruise controlled groove with "Collide O Scope", before the  vocals yet again tense up and add grit. The reflective jazz tone drifts into psychedelic dimensions on "Drive" but with a dose of Spanish castle magic funk in the mix. Their idea of a lullaby sounds more  like something Sublime might have concocted in a stoned moment of inspiration.

If you pre-order the album you get the bonus track "Sharpie" which is one of their more upbeat moments. This album comes out August 18th. 

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