In Bird Names and its 2009 album Sings the Browns, underground zeitgeists past and present get beaten and baked with a vengeance. Indecipherable lyrical incantations find a crazy quilt backdrop of freak-folk percussion, free jazz improvisation, primitive off-key harmonies and Captain Beefheart guitar spikes — plus toy pianos, trumpets and the old, weird America. Are these Chicago youths trying too hard? Yes, but they're ultimately more sweet than cute, more free-spirited than deformed. The de rigueur sonic mess finds redemption in a contagion of fun, the occasional pop melody (always gummed up) and a refusal to take its psychedelic space echo and kindercore aesthetic too seriously. Looking for the perfect storm of Neutral Milk Hotel and Man Man? Bird Names will blow you to dissonant, candy-colored bits.
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