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Monday, August 10, 2009

The Road Trip: Virginia

Birdlips is essentially an updated, sophisticated, and polished version of everyone’s favorite lo-fi folk artists of the sixties and seventies (even if they hate being defined by the folk genre).

But that’s not such a bad comparison. Besides, that’s what originally brought Cliff Usher (vocals/guitar) and Lindsay Pitts (keyboard/vocals) together in the first place: their love of the psychedelic sixties and the seventies.

Birdlips first formed in the fall of 2007; after recording at a barn-turned-studio tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, they released their first album, Cardboard Wings, the following spring. The album jumbles flute, guitar, and piano into raw folk melodies with the occasional plucking of a banjo gives these songs a rustic feel.

But Usher and Pitts also had some extra strings and keyboards to back them up on Cardboard Wings, which creates a hint of spooky blues and a strong sense of melody, and it doesn't hurt that they emphasize rhythm as much as they do atmosphere, with help from some sparse percussion and sharply strummed guitar chords.

Usher’s voice is a little rough around the edges, with a strength and maturity that belies his 20-something years. Pitts’ creative work on the keys (and her too-rare singing) is the perfect complement; it is a soft fleecy layer that assures the overall warmth of the music.

Take a listen to the track "Some Kind of Death." It's easier for you to just listen than for me to explain.

Some Kind of Death by Birdlips

Touring the East Coast and building a following, Birdlips are working hard on material for their next album, tentatively titled Drift. I’m excited to hear their new work.

Honorable Mention:
Bratcore by VCR

Thinking of a band from Virginia that I should know? Leave it in the comments section!