The Wooden Birds – Mercury Lounge – April 10, 2009April 13th, 2009
Andrew Kenny’s music is a fine mist—little droplets of melody. Upon first glance, it seems inconsequential, like you have no fear of getting all that wet. But after a little while, the moisture seeps in and soon you’re sopping. A few years back, at the Austin City Limits music festival, the sounds of Kenny’s old band, American Analog Set, floated across a heat-drowned field to my early-day spot in the shade and trickled down into my soul until I was splashing in utter, joyous revelation.
Friday night at Mercury Lounge, the droplets came from his new band, the Wooden Birds, as they played a brisk 45-minute set in the early slot. It’d be hard to find a band with two guitars, a drummer and a percussionist that makes less noise than this one. The songs, all from an album to be released next month, highlighted the difference between drumsticks and brushes and between speaking and whispering. This band whispers its music. With Kenny on bass and vocals, smacking a piece of gum in between lyrics, the two guitarists acted more like another pair of bass players—with light touches of rhythm and melody framing Kenny’s solo vocals and when he was in coarse harmony with his bandmates.
Midway through the set, a country shuffle punched up a couple of songs and the transition in tempo was palpable: You’d think the band had started playing speed metal. This was sort of their first gig, and I expect the music to fill out as Kenny and his band have time to grow accustomed to this new brand of mist. They’ll get another go at it when they return to Mercury Lounge on Thursday, April 16th. —A. Stein