Friday, October 26, 2012

Tweak Bird Grows Undercover Crops

Tweak Bird
The Bird brothers, Caleb and Ashton, have been pounding out tunes and sometimes each other for the better part of five years. Their newest addition to the Tweak Bird lineup is no exception. Undercover Crops is an instantly satisfying 15 minutes of sludgy hypnotic rock and roll.

That's all there is to it. Although closer to an EP than an LP, the only real criticism of Undercover Crops is that it ends too soon, leaving listeners wanting more. And yet, no one can really fault the Bird brothers for putting out something so tight and efficient that setting the tracks on a continuous loop is probably the best answer.

Undercover Crops is perfectly balanced psychedelic rock. 

Easily their most ambitious set list, Undercover Crops find Tweak Bird continuing to add more energy to each album much like they've done with every show over the last few years. It's almost impossible to listen to them without hearing it. They are always looking for ways to push each other much like brothers will do with a punch, shove or dare.

The only constant is their signature sound, with Caleb playing a deep-throated and fuzzy guitar to make up for the want of a bass. Some years ago, Ashton played bass until he had to take a seat behind the kit and pick up sticks. The twosome made the decision then that they didn't need another member.

Along with their simple but magically-patented grooves is the Bird brothers' cloud high vocals that bring up the treble in their sometimes sarcastic songs. The second track, following the effect laden "everyone is paranoid" rinse and repeat of Moans, coveys a straightforward satirical sentiment: "So many people in the world ... I don't want to be one."

Weight, which was recently released as a video to help promote the album, readily dazzles in its carefree attitude and throbbing percussions. Lyrically, the Bird brothers manage to present bigger meaning with one or two sentences of verse, edited down into as few words as possible.

The seemingly unrestrained meaning of the song is a well-crafted paradox, wondering if we can find a way not to be so serious in world hellbent on being serious. It's a rare talent to shrug something off with intent, leaving everything a little more relaxed and upbeat.

Bunch O' Brains is similarly conflicted about a smart guy short on thinking. Like the others, it's both serious and not to be taken seriously. Too much effort put into over thinking defeats the restlessness of youth and spoils the hazy effect.

Tweak Bird is largely consistent across Undercover Crops, with subtle variations found on the pounding Psychorain or weary and woozily dreamy Pigeons. But the entire album ends before you can really take it all in, on Know It All.

Know It All chugs into itself like a car turning over until it hits its vocal chorus. Like many of their songs in the studio, there is plenty of room left over to embellish on the live stage and add an extra minute to a track that only runs two and a half minutes in the studio.

Throughout the album, Tweak Bird continues to give a substantive nod to the sixties and seventies while keeping the music fresh with pop-savvy sonic accents. Like many of the past albums, expect a few people to note that Tweak Bird doesn't produce many standout tracks, singles that are immediately recognizable. It's partly true, but only so far as the Bird brothers tend to deliver an entire experience.

Undercover Crops By Tweak Bird Climbs 7.9 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Tweak Bird likes to play with plenty of energy and aggression, offset with a trudging heaviness and lofty vocals. It's a winning combination. Add in their free-spirited sense of composition in the studio (this album took about a weekend) and jam-packed onstage performances, and it becomes pretty clear these two brothers from the southern tip of Illinois will be lighting up music for a long time to come.

Undercover Crops by Tweak Bird can be ordered from Barnes & Noble or downloaded from iTunes. You can also look for Undercover Crops on Amazon. For some more samplings and last-minute show scheduling and tour information, find them on Facebook. They played Las Vegas a few nights ago, presumably on their way back to Los Angeles.
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