“You might return to me, you said/I should have seen this coming/I might return to you I guess/But you got me climbing the walls.” Blood Memory snags you immediatley with these four lines of tragic ambivalence that typify the Birdmonster experience. The song, “I Might Have Guessed (Mean Version),” begins with a drumstick clack clack clack count in, a power riff with more than a trace of Americana, and those words, crying, earnest, begging, and angry. Yes, this is a love song, but it could also be about Birdmonster the band. Zach, David, Peter and Justin exploded on to the scene in 2006 with their debut, No Midnight, and were instantly the subject of blog rage. It was kinda slutty, actually. Every blogger wanted to fuck these guys. And they deserved it. With production by Brad “Foo Fighters” Cook, the collection of edgy rock songs had bite, power, riffs and raw energy.
Their second release, From the Mountain to the Sea, failed to catch fire in the same way. I personally found that the songs on that album, although I enjoyed them, lacked the hunger behind No Midnight. According to Zach, though, who was kind enough to be interviewed for this piece, there was no difference between those two albums and their new EP, Blood Memory. “We just pull songs out of the ether around us and they sound however they want to, we don’t have a lot of control over that,” he says. “We just do what we do, and the rest is not something we have control over. We learned long ago that spending time thinking about how our music is being received only takes away from our craft.”
Production on the second album, and on this EP, were by a more mainstream producer, Tom Schick (“He is Batman, the world just doesn’t know yet,” Zach says). But on this last release, the production is more laid back. Birdmonster seems more confident. In fact, on the “Evening Version” of “Iditarod,” it’s just Dave Arcuni and a guitar, and yet the song fills the room. You may recognize this song from its earlier electric incarnation, but I didn’t. This one is killer–way better. I asked Zach about why they chose to release this version, and he said, “We liked it to much to not share.” I also asked him why this beautiful song named after an Alaskan dog race? His response: “Its a secret, all i can say is, we are just trying to point out that we are qualified in foreign relations due to our knowledge of Alaska and its proximity to Russia.” I’m sure he’s joking. But I want to strangle him until he tells me the secret.
Overall, Blood Memory doesn’t feel as . . . safe . . . as Mountain did. The band experiments with slow, sad ballads and still brings fire with indie rock anthems (“Forever Gone” kicks ass), and, throughout, they seem to be having fun. A lot more fun than before. Zach seems indifferent to fame and so-called success. When asked whether the internet fame of No Midnight translated into record or ticket sales, he answered, “I’m not sure. All I know is that two months in the studio translates into a beard.” By now, you can tell he’s a wiseass.
Anyway, Blood Memory will be available on Tuesday September 22nd as an iTunes exclusive. “The 8 song collection has a nifty $4.99 price tag,” the band says.
From Blood Memory:
I Might Have Guessed (Mean Version) (YSI)
Not from Blood Memory:
No Midnight (acoustic version) (YSI)
Zach wouldn’t share any covers or demos with me, but he did offer this, Birdmonster’s cover of Billy Joel’s Movin’ Out . . .