Songs For Other People


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Songs For Other People Review

by j. poet

Filthybird has an eclectic sound that could easily be filed under literary folk, Americana, psychedelic country, or indie rock. Although their sound references all of those genres, the music the quartet makes is rather hard to pin down. The band's evocative and unlikely title is taken from a lyric by Robyn Hitchcock, "A happy bird is a filthy bird," another artist with an eccentric worldview, so it's best not to read too much into their moniker. The band's core is Renee Mendoza, a Texas born and bred guitarist and singer/songwriter with a big, open, expressive voice that inhabits its own unique musical space. She has the powerful yet understated delivery of a folk singer, and a literary turn of phrase that never calls attention to itself. Guitarist Brian Haran, her husband, has played in noise rock bands with Glenn Branca and LaMonte Young, but his approach here is minimal and melodic. With three notable exceptions, the music is atmospheric, suggesting wide-open emotional and geographical spaces. Every instrument has its own discrete presence and helps to set off and complement Mendoza's impeccable vocals. "Portraits" sets off its contemplative verses with a chorus of psychedelic swing that has a hint of honky tonk country in its backbeat. Mendoza's cosmic vocals on "Mostly of Waves" are given a larger than life feel with careful use of reverb and an amazing lyric that tie past, present, future and the mysteries of birth, life, and death into a neat little package. "Stephen Dedalus" a jazzy Nick Drake-like folk tune with a gently rolling rhythm that conflates James Joyce and Greek mythology for a playful meditation on hubris, features Mendoza's chilling, multi-tracked vocals and an unexpected whistled bridge; "Last Night," a quiet samba that examines the impact of unexpected infatuation, and "Hiders," a country-flavored bossa nova that sings the praises of love with a delicious, swooning vocal by Mendoza.

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