Review: Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds

May 21, 2012 § 2 Comments

Brendan Kelly is a very talented man. He’s in some awesome bands (The Lawrence Arms, The Falcon) and been in some legendary bands (The Broadways, Slapstick). He writes the Bad Sandwich blog, raises kids, drinks beer and goes to bed early. In between all of that, he now has his own solo outing, Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds.

On the first listen, I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever might have many of Kelly’s fans (Kellidrians?) wondering what the fuck happened.

Gone is the distinct, whiskey-burned voice over distorted guitars, ala TLA/Falcon. Here is a clean, but gravely, croon he’s displayed a few times in his past efforts. Sure, there is distortion but every now and then a mandolin or a hybrid combo of keys or acoustic guitar pop in. It makes you feel weird, almost lost. But when you hit replay and return to the first track, “Suffer The Children, Come Unto Me,” a mysterious change comes over you. Kelly’s voice is no longer a distraction, it fits with the music perfectly. His dark lyrics describing disturbing crimes became catchy in a way that they shouldn’t. You finally accept this isn’t the next Larry Arms record or Falcon EP but it’s own thing entirely. With that, the record kicks it into overdrive and you’re hooked.

 This album is damn good. It’s almost frighteningly perfect, too. Kelly is able to break out of his comfort zone and really toy with some nifty ideas. Songs like “A Man With The Passion of Tennessee Williams” have almost a loop effect feel while “Dance of The Doomed” and “Your Mother” showcase different tempos/styles that you’ve never heard from him before. There are punk songs, too, but they flow in and out between slower jams that really pull this baby together. Every listen you begin to pick up on new things that are just kicking it in the layers upon layers of delicious audio lasagna. Oh, and his burned-out gravel voice even pops up a few times, too.

Overall, this is a solo album that just isn’t a continuation of something that Kelly has done before. This is Beax showcasing that he just isn’t a three chord lackey but an artist who isn’t afraid to put it all on the line and exceed expectations of Brendan Kelly junkies everywhere.

–Grant Geiger

Ed. Note: I love the ever-loving shit out of this album. Too bad somebody else has already had Brendan Kelly’s babies for him, because I totally would.

To submit your own review of a recent release, email Kate at justwhittlin [at] hotmail [dot] com.

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