The Wooden Birds is the side project of Andrew Kenny of the American Analog Set; its lineup also features Leslie Sisson and Matt Pond of, er, Matt Pond PA fame. As might be expected with such pedigrees, the group's debut, Magnolia, is a lovely, unadorned collection of pop songs reminiscent of Elliott Smith's hushed folk. Opener Dan Mangan is a smart singer-songwriter comparable to Badly Drawn Boy, Josh Ritter and Damien Rice; his rugged voice cuts through resonant acoustic guitars and the occasional burst of horns and strings. However, the Canadian's latest LP, 2009's Nice, Nice, Very Nice, has enough sly moments — "The Indie Queens Are Waiting" is a double-edged commentary on romance and social strata — to balance out the introspection.
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