Monday, November 5, 2018

Bird Streets, Bird Streets, 2018

Album Review

By Henry Lipput

For his new album, Bird Streets, the New York-based songwriter and musician, John Brodeur, reached out to his friend, the producer and multi-instrumentalist, Jason Falkner. The result is indie-pop gold with guitars, melodies, and vocals that, as the album's Bandcamp page says: "draws liberally on the music of decades past without being bluntly nostalgic."

For nearly 20 years Brodeur has released several solo albums, fronted the rock trios The Suggestions  and Maggie Mayday, and worked as a touring and studio musician. Faulkner, of course, was a founding member of power-pop legends Jellyfish and is the one-man band behind such solo records as 1996's Author Unknown. He produced the Bird Streets album and co-wrote most of the songs with Brodeur.

Two of my favorite songs on Bird Streets are about breakups. There's the break-up-happening-right-now of "Thanks For Calling." It's an upbeat tune with echoes of the Mersey Beat sound, and there's also a late-period solo Alex Chilton guitar riff in the mix. "So the next time you hook up / With an old friend / Keep it a secret, keep me in the dark," sings Brodeur in a warm, friendly voice that sounds not unlike Matthew Caws of Nada Surf. "So you're kind of a thing now? / Thanks for calling / I would have been better off never knowing / But you had to tell me everything."

The post-breakup song is "Stop To Breathe" which has the fantastic dueling guitar sound that was so much a part of Falkner's post-Jellyfish band, the indie supergroup, The Grays (which also included Jon Brion, Buddy Judge, and Dan McCarroll) and their great 1994 one-shot Ro Sham Bo album. 

In "Stop To Breathe" an old girlfriend keeps coming back into his life in unexpected ways: "You  must be alive / 'cause you cashed the check" and "Seven months before I heard a thing / Then I see the ring I gave you / In a Third Street pawn-shop window." Then there's a big chorus "Drop your weapons and retreat, Carrie / I'm not the enemy / And you're a question mark / When an answer's what I need, Carrie." With Luther Russell brought on board, an awesome three-guitar face-off takes off that might just remind you of the end of Abbey Road.

"Betting On The Sun" is a terrific pop song with jangling guitars that could have found a place on Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend. Miranda Lee Richards and Maesa Pullman provide a heavenly chorus on the lovely "Spaceship." And the ballad "Heal" compares love to a drug: "I came to you looking for relief / Hollow-eyed and shaking like a leaf / You were safe and warm, that's why I stayed / Praying that the rush would never fade / Anesthetized /And hypnotized."  

"Direction," with its swell lead bass line and a crunchy guitar solo, tells the story of a sort-of girlfriend who's never quite around when she's supposed to be: "Three in the afternoon on a Monday / You're in the bathroom again, with a friend / And everyone can hear you / You fix yourself up  / And make your way back to the table / Everyone shuts up / And pretends nothing happened." 

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