Monday, July 2, 2012

Two Wounded Birds Tame Up Surf Pop

Two Wounded Birds aren’t afraid to wear their influences on their sleeve. The Margate-based band has finally released their first album, and it is perhaps one of the strongest debuts to come out of the U.K. in ages.

The self-titled Two Wounded Birds is packed with 12 tracks, each strong enough to stand on its own, but all of them carefully crafted as part of a cohesive body of work. The album was recorded at Ranscombe Studios on tape and was released on Jacob Graham’s (The Drums) Holiday Records (Holiday Friends Recording Company). The band owes a debt of gratitude to Graham because touring in support of The Drums helped them hone their chops and gave a boost of support (not to mention plenty of the right kind of exposure).

“It’s easy to see why these rising stars caught the ears of such legends as Brian Wilson and Debbie Harry,” said Graham. “Their songs capture the American spirit with clear allegiances to the Beach Boys, the Ramones and Elvis—all while still acknowledging the band’s British roots. You won’t hear any Elton John-style American accents here; instead, Johnny Danger’s sound recalls the velvety tones of Colin Blunstone in his Zombies heyday—a voice with true character.” 

Indeed, the band is unabashed in paying homage to their influences, but somehow manage to do it with complete originality. While some surf-influenced bands have a certain kitschy quality, this isn't some expected novelty sound. It's just glorious retro rock, punk and a hint of 50s do wop for good measure.

If Only We Remain is the album’s lead single and with good reason.

If Only We Remain features some of singer/guitarist Johnny Danger’s most plaintive, yearning vocals ever. The video for the song is more like a short film. It shows the band making their way through the woods carrying a shovel, which is ominous yet symbolic all at once.

There are other songs worth a listen. It’s Not Up To You is riddled with angst and features some solid pop rhythms and guitar work. To Be Young is new and nostalgic all at once, filled with dreamy surf pop and reverb heavy guitars. Danger’s vocals are again just right in Night Patrol, but the song moves from a B grade to an A thanks to the solid work of the band’s rhythm section.

Together Forever sounds like it could have been covered by a 60s American girl band or maybe the Ramones. There is a great clip of the band peforming the song with their charactistic vim and vigor on the BBC. Expect to turn up the volume to get a real sense of it.

Otherwise, the in-your-face Daddy’s Junk is reminiscent of Grease’s Greased Lightning, underpinned by a loose, rocking piano pulling it all together. It’s wild and unrestrained. My Lonesome appears here but first garnered interest when it was streamed back in 2010.

It’s easy to see why. This Dick Dale-esque tune features some stunningly haunting vocals by Danger and nearly flawless work by the entire band, particularly Blackgrove. Check out this clip of the band performing the song as part of Bands in Transit if you get a chance. Danger’s coif is worth the look alone.

First formed in 2008 and after several personnel changes, Two Wounded Birds includes Danger and bandmates Ally Blackgrove (bass), Joe Stevens (guitars), and James Shand (drums). Through and through the self-titled Two Wounded Birds is nicely tracked and has a pleasing flow. The songs are fresh and nuanced in such a way that the band leaves other retro pop bands in their dust.

Two Wounded Birds Debut Rings 8.7 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

The band will be performing in Rome on July 6 and then moves back to the UK for a few days, including the Portsmouth Southsea Festival on Sept. 1. The band has already established a reputation for blowing onto the stage like refugees from a golden era of rock and roll, with all the energy of a big name band but without any presumption.

You can find the 12-track self-titled Two Wounded Birds on iTunes. Two Wounded Birds is also on Amazon. You also keep up with the latest news and show dates on Facebook. This band is wildly underrated.
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