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From the Mountain to the Sea

Birdmonster

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Album Review

On their originally self-released debut, No Midnight, Birdmonster sounded like a comfortable composite of indie rock luminaries like Modest Mouse, Spoon, and the Pixies, crafting a jagged but heartfelt sound that paired big guitars with earnest vocals barking elliptical lyrics. What a difference a few years and a different producer make: they recruited Bradley Cook, who had produced music for Queens of the Stone Age and Foo Fighters, to give a rock wallop to No Midnight's sound, but on From the Mountain to the Sea — Birdmonster's first album for Fader Records — they enlisted Tom Schick, who had worked with Ryan Adams, Willie Nelson, and Norah Jones, and who brings the hints of Americana that lurked around the edges of Birdmonster's sound to center stage. From the Mountain to the Sea begins gently, especially compared to the first album's punchy attack, but its statements are just as bold: "My Love for You" is a tender, banjo-laden ballad that sounds more like the Mountain Goats than anything else in Birdmonster's songbook, and songs like "Lost at Sea" and the mandolin-tinged finale, "I Might Have Guessed," are ringing instead of raw. By turning down the volume, Birdmonster put more focus on their words, and on songs such as "The Only One," with its mentions of Papa and copperheads, and the imagery of a girl who prays to St. Anthony in "Our Ashes," the band aims for — and mostly hits — the rugged yet literate terrain of bands like Kings of Leon. But even on From the Mountain to the Sea's prettiest, most understated songs, such as "Concrete Lights," the band can't hide its muscular playing entirely, and Birdmonster crank up the amps again on "New Country" and "The Iditarod," a galloping rocker where the band comes closest to recapturing the first album's energy. "Greenland Sound" and "Heart of the Dead" try for that urgency as well and just miss it, but "Residue," which begins with pretty keyboards and banjos and then evolves into craggy riffs, finds a way to balance Birdmonster's impulses perfectly. Despite some stumbles, Birdmonster feel more convincing on this album than they did before, even if the impact isn't as great here as it was on their debut — they sound like they're challenging themselves more and their touchstones are less obvious. From the Mountain to the Sea is often undeniably pretty and always thoughtfully crafted; it just might take fans a few spins to realize that.

Customer Reviews

Right On!

I couldn't wait to hear the new album... I fell in love with their previous release 'No Midnight' -AND- their live show would never disapoint. The new album definitely shows the band taking a much more mature direction, but they still retain the energy and style that hooked me from 'NM'. I LOVE IT. Birdmonster delivered an album that sounds different than their debut and it is still just as interesting to listen to. Tom Schick's production (Ryan Adams) captures the essence of their chemistry. The fact that they took a risk with a "less is more" approach compared to their last effort shows me that the band wants to continue to push their musical boundaries. Every track on 'From The Mountain To The Sea' is a keeper in my opinion. I am so proud of Birdmonster - congrats!

Buy this album if you know whats good for you!

Birdmonster are one of few bands who truly pour their heart and soul into the music they create. The emotions and energy evident in their music are a clear reason why you should buy and enjoy this album.

This could be my favorite album...

Birdmonster's new album, From the Mountain to the Sea, is not merely one of my favorite albums, it could be THE favorite. In a departure from their previous work the band has a more mature sound. Yeah, they can still rock out (and remain one of the most entertaining--and hard-working--live acts you'll ever see), but they are also superb musicians, a trait that shines through on a number of the acoustic cuts. Peter Arcuni's voice is richer, a bit Dylan-esque, and his lyrics are as mesmerizing as the early Dave Matthews albums and Jackson Browne. This is an album that you can listen to again and again, never tiring of the songs. From the rock-country fusion of "New Country" to the almost plaintive acoustic guitar and mandolin on "I Might Have Guessed", the band continues to defy being categorized. In answer to David Bowie's question, "Ain't there one damn song that can make me break down and cry?"...yes, several, and they're on this album.

Biography

Formed: 2004 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

San Francisco quartet Birdmonster are kind of like a Bay Area version of Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, except that where Leo and his group have an undying devotion to first-wave new wave and ska groups like the Jam and the Specials, Birdmonster spike their Fugazi-like indie rock tunes with nods to American Beauty-era Grateful Dead and early Bruce Springsteen. Revved-up and punky rockers share space with country-inflected tunes that feature banjo, melodica, and cello, with singer/songwriter and guitarist...
Full Bio
From the Mountain to the Sea, Birdmonster
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