The Wooden Birds
SXSW showcase reviews
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., March 27, 2009
The Wooden BirdsThe Parish, March 21
Turning repeatedly to his band between songs, Andrew Kenny offered soft encouragement – "That was pretty good guys" – as if surprised at the tightness of the mellow sound rolling behind him. There was little surprising about the Wooden Birds, however, as the quintet couched comfortably familiar in Kenny's gentle voice and heavy-lidded, narcotic rhythms. While the recently returned Austinite's new project recalls his American Analog Set, even to the point of delivering AAS' "Aaron and Maria," and at times shaded his recent support of Ola Podrida on songs like "Never Know," Kenny's songwriting remains mesmerizing and cut with a twisted sense of nostalgia. There is tenuous balance between the Wooden Birds' lulling pull and the songs' lyrical push of disillusion, the traps of memory stretched across opener "Sugar" and the odd skew on love of "Seven Seventeen," the band's melodic somnambulism invoking dreamscapes of reflective disappointment and possibilities. The female harmonies on "The Other One" and the somewhat heavier "Anna Paula" added an echoing depth to Kenny's languid delivery, while the low guitar chime of "Believe in Love" rippled through the room. Finishing the set with the closer from upcoming debut Magnolia, "Bad," left the imprint of its calm repeated chorus cauterized into the night's restless regrets. While the Wooden Birds revisit familiar terrain, Kenny's returns are always stunningly fraught with an uncanny recoil of memory.