METABOLISM: A SALUTE TO
THE ENERGY OF THE SUN
2011 -- Northern Spy
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"Brilliant experimental songs full of lo-fi recorded instrumentals from guitar picking to strings to things I have no idea what they are with layered harmonized vocals like Brian Wilson probably wished he could’ve convinced his Boys to do ... I remember the anticipation to the Brian Wilson finalized Beach Boys album Smile. This Bird Names album is what I really wished it was."
-- Broken Heart Boy
"There’s a hole in our hearts where Captain Beefheart once loomed. Allow Bird Names to fill it. Whatever it is we need to fill our post-Beefheart aortic vacancy, Bird Names shall deliver."
-- Impose Magazine
"fun and rather deranged. I have trouble easily assimilating where they are coming from. Which is a very good thing. This is recommended for those searching for another way to do things. "
"Bird Names[combine] opposites into a contained stream of musical consciousness that enriches the lives of those open to its abstract bells and whistles.
Metabolism: A Salute to the Energy of the Sun is a hot pocket of gooey, messy pop — easily digestible for critics and listeners with sensitive stomachs as well as an audience hungry for the spiciest, hottest tastes ... Metabolism puts their melodic sense of humor front and center and somehow, no one is laughing. Why? Because the album, in spite of its happy-go-lucky demeanor, is seriously good. There is no attempt made at being kitschy or intentional retro; this is just the evolving sound of Bird Names. Bass line dance, vocals rise and crumble, melodies start, stop, and change timbre and tempo at whims equally unpredictable and calculated -— as if no one but David and Phelan could have thought of this. But Metabolism isn’t some far-fetched experiment that will separate the poseurs from the brave. It’s entertainment for the whole family."
-- Agitated Atmosphere
"Slapping labels on the work of Phelan La Velle & David Lineal (with assorted chums and mates) is as inevitable as it is unhelpful - experimental, psychic pop, avant-garde and so on and so forth. In addition to the Gong comparisons you can add the likes of Coco Rosie (Phantoms & Fortunes for example), Captain Beefheart and others, with the off kilter rhythms, clanging of objets trouvés, left of centre lyrics and vocals. But underneath are hints of more regular song structures and melodies that make it easier to assimilate the more deliberately eccentric aspects.
Not an easy listen as I say but given a few listens its pleasures reveal themselves ... there is something of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band about My Baby’s a Lady – now there’s something I never thought I would write in 2011! ... At one extreme of the scale, we must all endure the ordure of manufactured, formulaic consumer pop for the masses, at the other end of the normal distribution curve come the likes of Bird Names."
-- Haymon Collins
BIRD NAMES SINGS THE BROWNS
2009 -- Upset the Rhythm
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"It must be hard to throw billions of ZANY IDEAS into actual songs that are good but Bird Names have gotten pretty good at this by the sounds of their new Sings The Browns LP, it's totally frivolous with a vaguely gentrified calamity, real mad dinner party sort of stuff though there's some weird mountain/tower mystique in there too, but maybe that's because sometimes they sound like a split between Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy and Ariel Pink (particularly “Days Elevated” from the new album) but mostly they prefer to get lost in their own type of jumble, built with super naff jangles (in a good way) and baffled young joy beaming out everywhere."
-- Rose Quartz
"The best chamber kitchen-folk psychedelic unit I've heard in some time, to say the least. Instant weirdo classic, every song's a winner."
-- Ear Conditioned Nightmare
"One of the most well-crafted, unique, and far-out pop albums in recent years. "
-- Tiny Mix Tapes
"They bang and clatter and hoot and howl, like Beefheart and Can and Os Mutantes shot through cannons into cockfighting matches. It's bizarre and uproarious, disorienting and just plain out there. But my god, is it fantastic. "
"Sings the Browns is the latest in a long line of great releases from Chicago's Bird Names . Experimental at their core, Bird Names seems to draw their musical compositions from bits and pieces of virtually every genre creating an interesting sound that, when at its best, fits somewhere between the easy-breezy sounds of early 70s folk-pop, mid 90s Japanese noise, and children making music with their Fisher Price tool kit. Somewhere around track 5 ("Natural Weeds"), this album takes off and never looks back culminating in eight songs in a row that will dazzle you with brilliance."
-- Viva Indie
"The album is bookended by two tracks that could easily be in any Magic Band set"
-- Drowned in Sound
"Best of 2009"
-- Impose Magazine
2008 -- Unsound Records
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"Verdict = Ridiculously awesome ... a colorful blend of art-damaged folk pop that never loses its charm amidst its brash juvenility. It’s jagged and playful, inventive and hook-laden and overall happily odd. Open Relationship’s fifteen tracks are packaged like bite-sized candy bars and then deep fried just for fun; each is a super rich exciting blast of fricasseed creativity."
-- Forest Gospel
"There is something so delightfully odd about Bird Names' newest release Open Relationship, it's hard to even come up with genres to explain what they're doing."
-- RCRF LBL
"No big surprise, but the new Bird Names record, Open Relationship, is a piece of weirdo pop brilliance that sounds pretty much unlike anything else happening right now, unless there's such a thing as a Chinese Os Mutantes I don't know about."
-- Crickets / Chicago Reader
"Chicago-based Bird Names might just be the exact opposite of 'accessible' music. Their second release, Open Relationship, contains 15 under-three-minute tracks and zero melodies. At best, they might be considered experimental folk rock. At worst, they would be considered simply un-musical. The sparse, falsetto-drenched vocals are drowned by the random instrumentation. These birds definitely put the “psyche” [sic] in psyche-rock."
–- Illinois Entertainer
"There are few things better than Bird Names' lowest-fi avant-pop"
"The continually clashing sounds and bum notes make one appreciate the care put into Phil Spector's famous Wall of Sound. This music sounds like that wall crashing down."
"Bird Names specialize in joyous, celebratory bang-on-a-bucket styled primitivism of the finest sort . . . Bird Names' music and energy is exceptionally direct and honest. The fact that they seem to come by this quality innately, without any fussy contrivances or self-conscious artiness, is what makes the arrival of Open Relationship so welcome."
WOODEN LAKE SEXUAL DINER
2007 -- Unsound Records
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"...strewn through unyielding carnival rides, doused in moonshine and baked through and through . . . if you are searching for the true definition of what freak-folk should sound like, look no further than The Bird Names."
"undomesticated, raucous, urgent, and alien like the 20s and 30s stuff on Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music"
-- From a Chicago Reader feature story
"Top 10 of 2007 -- Flat-out the oddest album I heard all year, which is saying something given the amount of odd music I listen to. Twinkly little bits of clockwork exotica, cartoon-falsetto sing-alongs, ramshackle pop structures, a Shimmy-Disc-esque drug haze pervading the lo-fi production: imagine the Residents importing some rubber-limbed anthropomorphic animals from an old-timey Max Fleischer short, and some self-replicating machine elves from one of Terence McKenna's DMT trips, and you're in the neighborhood. Refreshingly strange."
"I have not heard a more confounding, awesomely crappy, ingeniously terrible record this year. In sum, The Bird Names are a Chicago group who sound like Daniel Johnston having the worst fever dream of his life, then deciding to recreate the entire back catalog of the Beach Boys using nothing more than his Fisher-Price toy instruments . . . I give a confounding grade for a confounding record. Wooden Lake Sexual Diner is one of the best, worst and OK records of the year."
"Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart fans, huddle up: The Bird Names will satisfy your inner freak. In Chicago's art rock circles, this band makes the Fiery Furnaces sound like Phil Collins. "Diner" is a collection of songs that work more like collages, combining itinerant sources -- wordless singing, chants, recorders, simple percussion, computer noise -- to create a single piece of music that exists in the shadows but often strikes out with whimsy.
Like an out-of-focus film, the album is blurry. Voices that could double as Teletubbies sing in loops, accompanied by toy pianos and murky percussion. In what could easily be a mess, the music offers extremely catchy melodies and a sense of childlike joy. The harmonies that carry "Beach of Teeth" sound in homage to the Beach Boys, while "Smoovebiz," with its sinister patchwork of computer noise and robotic beeps, is electronic fuzz. Like a young child, the repetition and primitive aesthetic will test anyone's patience. But not in a long time has utter nonsense sounded so fun."
-- Daily Herald
ON OPAQUE THINGS
2006 -- Pecan Crazy Records
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"2nd best album of 2006"
-- Jackin' Pop Critics Poll
"Time for your freakout? Make sure to set the scene with this second album from The Bird Names, the newest addition to Chicago's noise pop scene. These beguiling songs sound snatched from a dream, their collage of sounds are together childlike and terrifying. Unlike the murky home recordings of other sonic dabblers, this quartet has a whimsical pop ear; despite their indistinguishable lyrics and wobbly spines, the songs are weirdly and wonderfully tuneful. "John and Laura and Jenny" follows a simple guitar line that meets up with finger snaps and doo-wop vocals, "The Ocean Seems Barely to Notice Its Shore" is a psychedelic sea chantey, and "The Indefinite Time Yet to Come" is feverous fuzz pop. Blurry production aside, the band's surreal pop experiments gleefully break paradigms and create pleasure."
-- Daily Herald
"The best show I've ever been to."