The Bird Names - Wooden Lake/Sexual Diner
The Bird Names
Wooden Lake/Sexual Diner (Unsound, 2007)
Download: The Bird Names - "Ghosts"
Download: The Bird Names - "Nobody Loves Me"
Download: The Bird Names - "New Mexico"
I have not heard a more confounding, awesomely crappy, ingeniously terrible record this year. In sum, The Bird Names are a Chicago group who sound like Daniel Johnston having the worst fever dream of his life, then deciding to recreate the entire back catalog of the Beach Boys using nothing more than his Fisher-Price toy instruments (my brother's favorite was the trumpet, which he used memorably to scare the bejesus out of me as a wee tot).
I may have made The Bird Names sound incredibly awesome; in part, they are. There are tracks on Wooden Lake/Sexual Diner that sound like absolutely nothing you've heard before. I suppose that "freak-folk" may be the best genre tag for the band, but even then that label only partially applies. The only real folky aspect of the band are their melodies on songs like "Nobody Loves Me" or " Ghosts" and those songs still sound like they hit every branch of the dissonance tree while on their way to the carnival funhouse.
But to get there, you have to weave through music that makes the beginning track of the first Clap Your Hands Say Yeah record sound like "Eleanor Rigby". That is no hyperbolic exaggeration. If you can get through the non-melodic atonal tripe like "Tepid Waters" or "Beach Of Teeth" in order to experience the glorious creative rush of "New Mexico" or experimental surf-rock "Bodies Smell Of Perfume", you're either the bravest, most adventurous listeners out there or one of the stupidest. I still can't figure out where I fit in. I loved and loathed this record.
So I give a confounding grade for a confounding record. Wooden Lake Sexual Diner is one of the best, worst and OK records of the year.