On Second Thought: The Wooden Birds – Two Matchsticks (2011)

Share this:

In 2008, Andrew Kenny, guiding light of the Brooklyn-based American Analog Set, packed it in and decamped for his native Austin, Texas. In the process, he left behind AmAnSet’s Eno-esque wash of synths, embraced acoustic guitar, and accessed his inner Neil Young for his current band The Wooden Birds.

By 2011, his Wooden Birds were on their second LP, and they were continuing this mastery of a genre they helped create. Call it chamber power pop by way of stripped-down Americana. Though it boasted a gauzy sound reminiscent of Lou Reed’s closet mix for the 3rd Velvet Underground LP, Two Matchsticks wasn’t lacking energy.

“Folly Club,” the percussive acoustic rocker that kicks off the disc, wouldn’t feel out of place on Ted Leo’s Shake the Streets. Except Leo’s Pharmacists never reached the soaring harmonies, keening with a hint of Appalachia, that Kenny reaches with AmAnSet guest artist Leslie Sisson.

The rest of the cuts continue this approach: well crafted pop cradled in a hazy down home vibe. Over time, “Company Time” has come to conjure up Kiln House-era Fleetwood Mac, only backing Nick Drake on anti-depressants. The percussive call and response of “Too Pretty to Say Please” now faintly echoes Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.” And “Be No Lie” comes across as the creepy cousin to “Déjà vu” era Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Ultimately, though, the overworked phrase “rainy Sunday morning music” applies. There’s a brooding, intriguing quality throughout the disc, but the muffled cotton production threatens to suffocate these fine compositions. I appreciate what Kenny and company are going for here, but I wish the songs had more oomph to put them over. An enjoyable, frequently compelling listen, “Two Matchsticks” is ever on the verge of dissolving into a warm mist.

[amazon_enhanced asin=”B00508WWJE” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B00008YJCV” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B00242GSDK” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B00005NFXS” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B000004B93″ container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /]

Patrick Moran

Patrick Moran

Chicago native Pat Moran is a filmmaker who has produced and written five feature films, and served as producer and editor for Western Classics, a film series hosted by actor James Best. He also writes about music for Creative Loafing Charlotte. The best job title he ever had was "part-time vampire." Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Patrick Moran
Share this:
Close