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Album Review

The Wooden Birds borrow much of their foundation from the American Analog Set, whose textured arrangements and heavy-lidded ambience are channeled throughout this debut effort. But while the American Analog Set often masked Andrew Kenny's melodies with trace-like washes of guitar and synthesizer, the Wooden Birds push his vocals to the front, highlighting the resulting melodies with a soft, gauzy glow reminiscent of early mornings and rainy Sunday afternoons. Accordingly, Magnolia is more indebted to the bedroom recordings of Iron & Wine than the spacy soundscapes of Brian Eno, with palm-muted bass and makeshift percussion (often little more than the sound of Kenny slapping his acoustic guitar) adding a gentle gait. A glance at Magnolia's lyric sheet indicates that Kenny isn't as serene as the music may indicate, but his croon belies such heated lyrics as "With his hands on the small of your back, I hope you choke." Meanwhile, Leslie Sisson's understated harmonies add a cooling touch, and the boy-girl interplay of "Seven Seventeen" — a light, lilting examination of an age gap's effect on love — makes for one of the most engaging moments on the disc. For fans of Andrew Kenny's past work, Magnolia is a sobering counterpart to American Analog's gentle buzz, a soundtrack for those moments in which dreams give way to the slow ascent of morning.


Formed: 2008 in Austin, TX

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Andrew Kenny, the driving force behind American Analog Set, began working on a new side project, the Wooden Birds, after pulling up stakes and moving back to his native Texas in 2008. Sounding something like a rustic, Neil Young-influenced spin on Kenny's previous work, the Wooden Birds nodded to likeminded acts like Bon Iver and Iron & Wine. The debut effort Magnolia, which featured appearances by Ola Podrida, David Wingo, Leslie Sisson (American Analog Set), and drummer Michael Bell (Lymbyc Systym),...
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Magnolia, The Wooden Birds
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