Spotlight: The Wooden Birds
9pm, the Parish
By Darcie Stevens, Fri., March 20, 2009
"I know whatever we do in the future is going to be a lot different, because we can't keep on like this forever."
That's American Analog Set songwriter Andrew Kenny, summer 2005, on the release of the seminal Austin soft-pop act's swan song, Set Free. The inevitable followed: The band split. Ten years after the release of the AmAnSet's apogee, The Golden Band, which the band reunited to play in its entirety at Friday's Insound.com day party, Kenny introduces the Wooden Birds to a new generation.
"I wanted to make this extremely rhythmic project with really simple songs," Kenny explains. "They're built on rhythm and loops and me beating on a guitar, and of course, anything that's built on a loop is going to be repetitive, but I don't think there's any fat on this recording."
That message in minimalism is a reaction to the Analog Set's ebb and flow as well as Kenny's time with Canadian supergroup Broken Social Scene in 2007. While the Wooden Birds' songs were already gestating – debut Magnolia (Barsuk), due May 12, might as well be called Andrew Kenny Presents: Andrew Kenny – BSS helped the local break longtime habits.
"I got a lesson in spontaneity from Broken Social Scene, and if I took away anything, it was that you gotta let things just happen," says Kenny.
Recorded with the help of Set Free producer Chris Michaels, former Austinite Leslie Sisson, and Ola Podrida songwriter David Wingo, Magnolia is easy, earthy, and undoubtedly Southern, like the dusky buzz of summer cicadas. There are no double tracks, no tricks, just simple, real songs, and as soon as Kenny finds a permanent drummer to replace South by Southwest fill-in Michael Bell of Lymbyc Systym, this postcard from the South travels abroad.