I’ve touched upon the years I was in high school in earlier posts (1991 – 1995), but certain other details are worth mentioning. When I initially started high school, kids who had their heads shaved, wore punk rock clothing, and generally strayed from the “norm” were labelled as ‘sub-humans’ (aren’t kids the best). There was no Hot Topic, no commercialization of punk (at least not in the way that would become so prevalent). If I wanted to get really cool (to me, that is) golf pants I had to go to Village Thrift on Broad Street (in Philadelphia). If I wanted a pair of Doc Marten combat boots, my best bet was to go to Zipperheads either in New Hope or on South Street. I kind of straddled the line between looking like everyone else, while sometimes throwing in some punk flair.

A funny thing happened as the high school years progressed. What was once ‘sub-human’ became the fashion of the day (thank you, Mr. Cobain). Suddenly, every kid in school was wearing some combination of ripped jeans, boots, striped shirts, funny nostalgia shirts, etc…What happens when the outsiders become the popular choice? I’m reminded of the saying “I’m different…just like everybody else”. At a party my good friend (If you are reading this Sean, I love you)  and I thought it’d be hilarious to point out this contradiction by wrapping sweaters around our necks and really prepping ourselves out (cue Brett Easton Ellis reference). At some point, I became somewhat tired of the scene and decided that to know what I like – well – you would just have to get to know me. A turning point of my youth, and something that has guided my fashion choices ever since (although I am known to rock a DeLorean hat and Joy Division shirt on occasion). That’s not to say I don’t admire true punks and goths – I do.

This brings me to the UK band Birdeatsbaby – a band that inhabit a special space with both their fashion and music. This band is the real deal, and the authenticity shines through. The press release for the record describes them much more eloquently than I ever could:

“Brighton based Birdeatsbady inhabit a world far, far removed from the mundane, scuffed-Converse drear of contemporary indie rock. Imagine Zola Jesus meets New York Tenderbury era Laura Nyro via a Tim Burton film soundtracked by Diamanda Galas and you’re close to the vampish, deathly serious, chamber-goth romp of a noise they conspire to create.”

With that being said, let’s talk about some highlights on this masterpiece of a record: 

“Intro” starts off the album with a Tori Amos-ish instrumental piano piece. Evocative and short – it sets the tone for the record.

“Anchor” begins as a piano piece, sounding like something out of an old western. Beautiful female vocals come into play as the piano refrains become more and more dramatic. Mournful violins uh…anchor down the proceedings. How can a piece of music that feels like an accompaniment for a funeral also sound so uplifting? The drums kick in about 2:20 into the song and suddenly we are dancing and singing along, embracing these dark lyrics and emotions. Key lyric “It’s a long a way to the anchor / fathoms under water / you are running out of tricks to tempt me / even if you move me / I’d still be a greedy little thing to have around and watch you drowning”

“Incitatus” is a very unique sounding piece – call and response female vocals with the music sounding like something out of a gothic-victorian party. The drums have a militant feel to them, with abrasive guitar coming into play around the 1:30 mark. Everything fades away and we are left with sighing violins and heartbreaking vocals….until the militant drum kicks back in and it starts all over again. Lovely. Key lyrics “Watch in the sky for the wrath of your captor / You’ll fall flat if you run any faster / Don’t look back for the fear of their laughter / They’re laughing, they’re laughing”

“Tastes Like Sympathy” begins with just vocals before the piano joins in after 20 seconds.  It slowly builds until the full band comes into play after 50 seconds or so. The strings in this song have to be heard – simply stunning and really lend to the atmosphere. Key lyrics “I was once a child of God but then the devil kissed me / He gave me fear, and he said my dear / ‘God will never miss thee’”

“Finale” ends the album on a very high mark. Sounds like something off of an early Tori Amos record, straightforward chamber / piano pop. A very welcome song after the preceding emotionally exhausting tracks. Key lyrics “You’ve always been such a contradiction / And I dare not tell you every affliction / That borders on madness and keeps us from speaking / Keeps us in moments that keep repeating my memories / Never ending”

This is a stunning record from Birdeatsbaby – I highly recommend you buy a physical copy OR download a copy (through legal means). In this day and age I find that a lot of indie and / or critically acclaimed bands sound similar. With this band you can be certain – you haven’t heard quite this flavor of goth-indie-chamber pop. The album is produced by Jason Rubal who offers up a clean production style, allowing each instrument to be heard clearly – which is a very effective style for this music. I will have a chance in June to sit down with the band and talk about the album and what inspires them – stay tuned for that feature to come. In the meantime – get yourself a copy of this album, light some candles, and allow yourself to be transported to the world of Birdeatsbaby.

Verdict: Sub-humanly divine

For Fans of: Dresden Dolls, Rasputina, Amanda Palmer, Tori Amos, The Cure

Track List

1. Intro
2. Love Will Bring You Nothing
3. Anchor
4. What The Water Gave Me
5. Feast of Hammers
6. The Sailor’s Wife
7. Incitatus
8. Interlude
9. Double Nine
10. Through Ten Walls
11. Tastes Like Sympathy
12. Victoria
13. Finale

‘Feast of Hammers’ – Produced by Jason Rubal & Birdeatsbaby. Recorded at Seventh Wave Studios, PA, USA.

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