J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

Playlists, podcasts and music from WQFS Greensboro's J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

Monday, June 04, 2007

Now Departing

Southern Skies
(Red Strings; 2007)

Greensboro is a diverse musical city. And there is no better proof of the amazing fluidity of its music scene than Filthybird. With members of the band working in projects that ranged from noise to post-rock acts, until their current incarnation as something much more traditional in structure but difficult to pin in style, they are the epitomy of why good music scenes spring up around a style - great music scenes spring up around sharp, flexible musicians.

Southern Skies is the long-in-coming result of that evolution. When discussing this band, it's impossible not to start with vocalist Renee Mendoza. Her voice ranges from evoking a more strong Natalie Merchant to the soaring gales of Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins) and it is this mix of both worlds, the grounded and the ethereal, that makes her voice so inviting. Mendoza's lyrics are also beautiful, but Filthybird tends to be a band where it is the manner in which the lyrics are delivered, not their content, that matters more than anything. Her voice plays as a unique instrument among the structure.

And what is that structure? Filthybird has a sound that they own themselves, rooting itself at touches in the classical structure of 70s pop/rock, 90s indie-rock (album closer "Sunshine" bears a striking resemblance to Radiohead's "The Trickster") and flourishes of the 4AD bands that were an obvious touchstone for Filthybird's earlier versions. The album opens with "Warm Womb," a soaring beauty of a song that revels in the glorious, overdrive guitar sound and accenting bass that drives the song toward its finish. It sets a nice beginning pace that the album occasionally reaches again, but it mostly floats along in a more warm and sometimes languid tone. "Houses" is an especially gorgeous song that leads into the aforementioned closer, "Sunshine," which ends the album on a more angular note, possibly even the album's most aggressive one.

Southern Skies is a record that deserves a hearing - especially for fans of some of the touchstones I mentioned. It seems to be the sound of a band really nailing its beginning moments, something intensely promising of future returns.

Rating: E(xemplary)

[the grading scale uses the vowels: A(udiophillic), E(xemplary), I(ndifferent/nteresting), O(dious), U(nbearable) and sometimes Y(e gads, that's awful!)]

Judge for Yourself:

Filthybird - "Warm Womb" (click to listen)

Filthybird - "Fightsong" (click to listen)

Filthybird - "Houses" (click to listen)

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