Basement Birds

Basement Birds

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Basement Birds list Eskimo Joe's Kavyen Temperley among the group members, but trade alt-rock for alt-country -- though to what extent it's really "alternative" is debatable. It's a good record anyway, full of nice vocal harmonies and acoustic guitar strumming, but not devoid of dynamics: the catchy "Not the One," for example, is simply a good pop/rock song, and some of the country numbers also roll along at a good tempo and to a merry banjo drone. At its core, though, the group's debut is a pretty laid-back, midtempo affair with plenty of calm vocals -- almost like Sparklehorse at times, but even poppier, veering close to Mike + the Mechanics, especially when doing that background whistling. At its chilliest, the album offers purely acoustic folk, although -- thankfully -- that is not interpreted as a mandate simply to strum away on three basic chords. This is not to say the music is complex, but the quieter songs leave an aftertaste not unlike Jethro Tull's folk excursions, and the rest has good pop sensibilities. The record is very much focused on the vocals, which are big but appropriately gentle throughout, while the bandmembers take care to show their chops by throwing in a nice acoustic instrumental, too. On the whole, there isn't much technically to differentiate Basement Birds from country's big names -- the same love of melody, the slightly rustic sentimentality, the good-old kind-natured jolly fun -- but the folky vibe removes most of the artificial sheen that Keith Urban and his breed revel in, making the record sound honestly down to earth without actually losing the sweet catchy sappiness.

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