04/29/09 Vera* Groningen, NetherlandsNote
05/01/09 Bikini Test* Switzerland
05/02/09 d*qliq* Luxembourg
05/03/09 Albani* Winterthur, Switzerland
05/04/09 Cafe de la Danse* Paris, France
05/06/09 Wah-Wah Club* Valencia, Spain
05/07/09 Moby Dick Club* Madrid, Spain
05/08/09 Cafe Hispano* Zaragoza, Spain
05/09/09 Apolo* Barcelona, Spain
05/10/09 Psilocybenea* Spain
05/12/09 Orangehouse* Munich, Germany
05/13/09 Wuk* Vienna, Austria
05/14/09 Teatar & Td* Zagreb, Croatia
05/15/09 GrooveStation* Germany
05/16/09 Pop-Up Festival Germany
05/17/09 Cafe Zapata* Berlin, Germany
05/27/09 Modified Phoenix, Arizona
05/28/09 Spaceland LA, CA
05/29/09 Bar Pink San Diego, CA
05/31/09 Rickshaw Stop SF, CA
06/02/09 Media Club Vancouver, BC
06/03/09 Doug Fir Lounge Portland, OR
06/04/09 Chop Suey Seattle, WA
06/06/09 Kilby Court Salt Lake City, UT
06/07/09 Larimer Lounge Denver, CO
07/04/09 Stubb’s BBQ Austin, Texas
*with Grand Archives
Magnolia album is out May 12th on vinyl. Download "False Alarm" from Barsuk.See Also
The Wooden Birds, Andrew Kenny’s latest project, is a reflection of his move from Brooklyn, New York back to his hometown of Austin, Texas. The two cities have quite a bit in common (laid back atmospheres, blogworthy music scenes, skinny jeans galore), but the differences are palpable on the Wooden Birds’ mellow debut, Magnolia.
Kenny subtracted the signature synths and electronic beats from his former band, American Analog Set, and added rhythmic percussions, an acoustic guitar, and backing female vocals provided by Ola Podrida. Like Kenny’s hometown, the songs on Magnolia are laid-back and tranquil – but with a steady energy that pulses like a heartbeat.
With the simple instrumentation, focus is drawn to Kenny’s quivery vocals and intricate lyrics. The Ben Gibbard comparisons are obvious (they once split an EP together), but Kenny sets himself apart by eschewing pop hooks for intense, prose-like verses that provide quiet, melancholy insight. On the slightly more upbeat track, “The Other One,” Kenny seamlessly tells the tale of a brother with a “journal with the saddest words / that you ever heard,” weaving a thoughtful character study of a detached family.
Kenny’s attention to detail stands out on several character-centered tracks, such “Seven Seventeen,” where he continually laments over the fact that “she was seven when I was seventeen.” Small but specific details scattered throughout Magnolia such as “kissing bike tires,” “makeshift rafts,” and “mom’s Indian rug” emphasize Kenny’s return to Austin. On “Hometown Fantasy,” the simply maracas and acoustic guitar are an ideal soundtrack to any idyllic front porch conversation.
With such a peaceful ambiance, it’s inevitable that some of the slower songs suffer from the “sameness” stigma. It can sound condescending writing off certain albums as “background music,” but in The Wooden Birds’ case, it’s hardly an insult. The album would certainly compliment a drive down South Congress or a lazy afternoon at Barton Springs. But even if you’re miles away from Texas, Magnolia will leave you nostalgic for somewhere warmer, somewhere quiet.