Birds of America - Current Carry

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The guitars in this album are so far away from angular they may have to be called circular, if that didn't sound so ridiculous.


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It's the middle of March and Spring has just arrived in the flat land. It's kind of hard to believe that I'm now sat on my balcony in t-shirt and shorts gazing out at a beautiful clear night because a fortnight ago I was involved in a fifty person snowball fight in Amsterdam. It's not too warm, but I can feel the season changing. Spring is here and summer's on the way. It's the first day this year I've been able to keep the door open without freezing in a matter of seconds and I'm going to savour this moment. I've got a nice bottle of Californian red sat beside me that was full about ten minutes ago but is now at the level that most depressed people would call half empty. I, on the other hand, would call it half drank and myself half cut. Still, I'm looking out as the sun starts to change colour, watching the birds flit about in the sky. Why do little birds always look so stressed and in a hurry? They should take it easy. Chill little Robin, chill. This is fabulous. My girlfriend will be home from work in about an hour so I've got time to just relax and soak this in. Sound nice? Like I said, it's fabulous. As is the music I'm listening to.


 


Current Carry is an absolute joy. A lot of the music that is making me smile nowadays is big, loud and aggressive, but I've got a soft side to me too. I like my guitars angular and sharp, but there's nothing wrong with a loose approach to guitar playing every now and again and the guitars in this album are so far away from angular they may have to be called circular, if that didn't sound so ridiculous. Man, this album is beautiful.


 


If you want comparisons, think somewhere in the region of laid back Neil Young (Harvest Moon/Silver and Gold) and the Smashing Pumpkins when Billy Corgan wasn't screaming a lot (Disarm/To Sheila). It begins with a track called This is Wonderful and it is. Wonderful, that is. A guitar strums gently and then Nathaniel Russell pipes up with a nice soft vocal that carries a little tune for about thirty seconds before trumpets and trombones appear and build up a slight swell before it all disappears into thin air. It only lasts a few seconds longer than a minute, but it's a great little track. I wish I was born an animal is even better. Delightfully indie, it begins with some more gentle guitar strumming and floats around with some nice keyboards and some lyrics about "birds and fishes" before the guitar gets loose, sloppy and extremely fuzzy. It's almost as if the mic level was too high, there's a kind of interference that is slightly unsettling, but somehow it still seems to fit and adds a kind of workman like, "made this in my living room" kind of vibe to the track. It sounds brilliant here on my balcony anyway.


 


Sister Brother takes that Neil Young vibe and shoves it into a gentle lullaby that contains a bass line that's so relaxing it should be prescribed as an anti-depressant. There's a nice cool breeze outside so I'll just take another sip of this wine, close my eyes and soak this in if you don't mind. 


 


I look up at the sky throughout Between the blue and blackened dew and let the clouds paint some pictures for me. There's a crocodile, there's a helicopter and there's one that looks like Paul Daniels. Oh dear. Best look away, I don't want to ruin the atmosphere. Sadly 'Sleeep', whilst still being a fine track, makes me feel like I'm coming down from a bad trip and for a moment I feel rather worried but I don't have to wait long before I'm smiling again. The eyes of our youth are evil may not have the most pleasant title, but I swear it's one of the most beautiful tracks I've heard this year. The guitar bounces along in a pleasant, folky manner and Nathaniel does some lovely 'ooooooh' work with his voice. Backing up the guitar is a sublime and impressively restrained saxophone. There's also some rather good slapping going on back there. The percussion doesn't really sound like handclaps, more like someone slapping their thighs repeatedly but before I start thinking of Morris Dancers I'll tell you that if I could lift up off the ground and glide around in the air like that big crow is doing over my head, I couldn't imagine a better soundtrack. Butter dove shoes keeps my spirits up in the air with its repetitive lyrics (I'm as free as a dove) and some great, fuzzy electric guitar work. It reminds me of the type of stuff Blur messed around with on 13, but this is even softer. Like Graham Coxon on valium. It's lovely.


 


The sleeping grass is just a gentle guitar with some la la la vocals but it goes down great with this wine and paints some beautiful aural landscapes in my mind. It sounds very spiritual and puts me in mind of the baptism scene in O Brother Where Art Thou?  I am in love with an ocean follows it and it sounds like Leonard Cohen on a good day. Nathaniel's vocals are almost whispered and slightly mournful. His voice seems to take on an ethereal, ghostly property and the guitars only seem to enhance that feeling. I don't know whether that cold wind I can feel is actually here or whether it's just my imagination playing with me, but the word atmospheric doesn't begin to describe this song. It's wonderful. The final track, Son Of A Man may be my actual favourite on the album, but it's just too damn short. It's barely two and a half minutes long and that just isn't long enough to enjoy this fully. The guitar picks up a gentle tempo and Nathaniel sings a wonderful lullaby that's as soothing as a cold flannel to your forehead when you've got a fever.


 


I simply can't describe how much I love this album. All's I can say is that, as I finish off this bottle and go off in search of another, I want to listen to it all again immediately. I don't want this night to end. I want my girlfriend to come home, for us to eat out on the balcony for the first time this year and to watch the sun set over the trees. I want to sit and talk about nothing important and just enjoy these first moments of spring. I want this album to be playing when she gets home from work. It'll relax her. I can't wait for the weather to get a little hotter so that we can go up to the lake with friends and go for a swim, drink some beer and soak up the sun. I want to go back to California and drive along the Pacific Coast Highway at sunset, staring out into the Pacific whilst trundling along that winding road. I want to head off to the Ardennes and walk through the forests, just to see how the light penetrates the trees. I want to go home to my parents' place and go for a walk up the Dales. I want to go to Amsterdam and take a seat outside my favourite brown cafe and simply watch people go past for an hour or so and I want this album to be the soundtrack to all of it. I urge you to go out and buy this. Ok, I may be a little worse for wear thanks to the wine but at the moment I feel fantastic. Thanks to Birds of America and this wonderful album I get the feeling it's going to be a great summer.


 


Words : Damian Leslie