New Artist Week continues with the fifth of seven new groups you should have your radar before 2011 ends.
Great rock is timeless, hitting our ear sweet and savory whether we discover it today or 50 years from now, but one can’t manufacture this hourglass deflecting vibe – it’s either right there, apparent as a sunrise or slow falling tear, or it isn’t. Songs For The New (released October 4 on Riot Bear), the second album from Catskills, NY-based Two Dark Birds , is great rock. Spend a little time with these instantly winning tunes and the real weight and craftsmanship of them hits home. The pleasing timbre of the vocals and the subtle arrangements further fuel the softly joyful feeling captured on tape, reaching out “fine filament fingers” through our collective communication breakdown, aiming high and starry-eyed in ways that make one want to take their hand and join them in their march towards newness and reality beveled hope.
Anchored by the songs and singing of Steve Koester, who also plays in 70s AM radio revivalists Maplewood, Two Dark Birds is filled with graceful handfuls of rock’s past 40 years, where one minute they might invoke the controlled loft and beauty of Zeppelin’s “The Rain Song” (Closer to Water) and the next offer up what could be a Thom Yorke b-side (Start All Over Again). It’s not to say Koester and his mates haven’t picked up a thing or two from early Bread and Poco but it’s really the feel of their music that resonates with good stuff past – a warmth and engagement that’s easy to like AND worthy of deeper investigation.
The progression from Two Dark Bird’s self-titled 2008 debut is natural, a stream picking up heft as it takes in tributaries, fuller and deeper for the miles it’s traversed. One senses a lot of living went on between the two albums, and Songs For The New feels carved out by ill winds and challenges but also tapping into a greater capacity for love and understanding that hard times bring.
Offered up by a band that plays with real care, holding back and letting loose with real empathy, this is lovely music with a special resonance beyond the ordinary, a work custom fit for folks scraping by and fretful about the future, a melody for those alone in the black night so they might not be lonely.
Two Dark Birds also just released a new EP, where each of the band members reimagined tracks from Songs For The New, where Jason Mills (drums, percussion) does a laid back, dub mix of “Song for Clementine.” Ben von Wildenhaus (keys) does a pitch-bending mix of “Black Blessed Night.” And Don Piper (lap steel) and Steve Koester perform stripped-down versions of “Comfort” and “Black Blessed Night.” Pick it up here, and check out a cut from it below.