TWEAK BIRD – Brothers Ashton and Caleb Bird have rode into town from Southern Illinois, with their self-titled, eclectically fused and heavy, full length album. Released on August 31, 2010, on Volcom Entertainment, Tweak Bird is the follow-up to this bands 7 song EP, Reservations from 2008. From the looks of the album cover, Ashton and Caleb seem to be pretty psyched out about things… as well they should be, since Tweak Bird were invited as an opening act for the Progressively Alternative legends known as Tool this past Summer of 2010. Your music must be striking a heavy nerve and be interesting plus different enough for Maynard James Keenan to take such a prominent notice.
Well, I’ve taken notice of Tweak Bird too. Yes, I’m no Maynard James Keenan, still I have learned long ago that when you play from the heart and don’t follow the leader with your Heavy Rock sound, a band is going to stand out from the sea of clones. Tweak Bird has seemed to navigate themselves through this sea of clones and gathered up their Rock influences to make a menagerie of sound that is both Heavy and semi-Progressive. With a sprinkle of Alternative ambiance that seems to peer through the cracks of Tweak Birds’s sound, it’s still the Heavy Stoner riffs and chunkiness of Caleb’s baritone guitar that commands their sound.
There are moments, while I listen to Tweak Bird, that I feel I’m hearing The Sword in a slightly tempered down groove. Then, the vocal harmonies of Ashton and Caleb seem to combine for what makes this album stand apart from being just another Heavy assemblage of songs. The comparison likeness, no matter how subtle, to that of the great Geddy Lee, is not an out of the realm statement to make when mentioning the vocals of these two brothers.
One moment where Tweak Bird’s music gets diverse, Alternative if you will, is on the song A Sun/Ahh Ahh, where an extended saxophone solo by John McCowan, (who is referred to as “sometimes third band member” in a Volcom Entertainment press release), comes into play at around the two minute mark of this song that runs 4:13. The overlapping and intermittent vocal ahh’s over the saxophone lends to an almost eerie feel… and I dig it. “A Sun/Ahh Ahh” comes to a close with the saxophone solo and fittingly makes sense.
Flute anyone? Tweak Bird incorporates the flute into “Flyin’ High”. This song simultaneously breathes a slow tempo while Caleb plays the thickest and heaviest Stoner riffs that makes me bang my head in slow motion. It can be done… slow motion headbanging… Tweak Bird taught me how. As with the saxophone, Tweak Bird makes the flute fit right into their Heavy motives, almost in a hallucinating sort of way. Cool.
The last song on Tweak Bird, “Distant Airways”, is the longest as well. Six songs clock in under 3 minutes, two songs under 2 minutes and one song barely over 4 minutes long. “Distant Airways” plays out at 6:15 long and doesn’t bore the senses as a useless and redundant epic either. The good ol’ saxophone makes it’s appearance once again on “Distant Airways”, giving these sax moments I hear a smoky lounge vibe that borders on the ultra cool. Hey… I have stated that Tweak Bird has shunned away the “clone syndrome” of Heavy Music and this song exemplifies this statement with ease. Distant Airways comes to a synthetic close with what sounds like a UFO taking off from some god forsaken crop field. A bona-fide Progressive moment. Cool again.
“Tunneling Through” showcases Ashton Bird hitting the drums hard (as he has been quoted: his hitting the drums hard being the “trick” in making his drums “sound good”). To me, Ashton’s drumming does sound good… and yes, it does sound like he hits the drums damn hard too. “Tunneling Through” gives way to a victorious feeling of “opening your mind” and journeying into the unknown. A tad psychedelic in it’s lyrical content? Sure thing. These lyrics married with the Stoner riffs and Heavy crunch, gives me that early 70′s Blue Cheer slap to my forehead. I point out this song as being my personal favorite from Tweak Bird.
Tweak Bird opens the album with “The Future”, a song that has proved to me that Psychedelic Heavy Metal does exist, especially when this type of cool experimentation occurs. “The Future” has a memorable and steady beat that is not short on the Heavy side of Tweak Birds’s bag of cool & Rockin’ tricks. “The Future” ends with lots of fuzzy distortion that might have me borrowing my daughters lava lamp very soon. The shortest song from Tweak Bird is “Round Trippin’”, playing at 1:12. The UFO’s have come to land! One listen to “Round Trippin’” and you’ll know what I mean there. This synth laced instrumental, puts an exclamation point on my tagging Tweak Bird as indeed… semi- Progressive.
Beyond is a track that takes the classic vibe of Surf Rock and beams it down into 2010… and is played the Tweak Bird way. Maybe the resurgence of Hawaii Five-O has some credibility after all. This song would make for a fabulous addition to this revamped television series soundtrack. Am I being a wise guy here? Nope. Beyond has all the feel and sound of modern day “Surfin’ USA”, only without the teeny-bop lyrics of actual… surfing. Cool.
The “Pop” or commercial accessibility of Tweak Bird’s songs sound non-contrived and it works well within the parameters of Heaviness that they pound away with. Caleb is an admitted T-Rex fan and loves Marc Bolan’s songwriting technique, thus the underlying reasoning behind a Classic Rock “Pop” characteristic, swirled within Tweak Bird’s overall sound. Clearly, Tweak Bird is a Heavy Band when it’s all said and done. Ashton and Caleb just mix it up by implementing the saxophone and flute within their Heavy Music playbook, showing that taking chances in Rock Music can make a comeback in 2010.
Do I like Tweak Bird? I sure do. I admire their making an album that is not generic. Knowing they are a Heavy Band is just the beginning… one must listen to each song and hear for themselves that the “unexpected” is just as cool as the “expected”. The one constant throughout the songs heard on Tweak Bird, is that you will hear Ashton and Caleb both playing Heavy… regardless if there are those intermittent moments of stylistic changes, the Heavy always returns.
Any multi-faceted, Rock Music nut should have a field day listening to Tweak Bird. Heavy Music fans that want a slice of Alternative cake, with their search for up and coming bands, might get exactly what they have been looking for with Tweak Bird. After listening to Tweak Bird several times, my use of the word “cool” has heightened… and I’m going for another slice of that Alternative cake. Cool.
* Tweak Bird was produced by Deaf Nephews - Dale Crover (Melvins & Altamont) and Toshi Kasai (Big Business & Altamont).
* For more info on TWEAK BIRD, just click on the cool links below:
Pictured above: Ashton on left, Caleb on right.
Track Listing For TWEAK BIRD:
Lights In Lines
A Sun/Ahh Ahh
Hazement In The Basement
GO GET ‘EM, TWEAK BIRD!