Monday, December 20, 2010

Birds and Arrows / Billy Sugarfix's Carousel on 307 Knox Records

Here's a split from a new label, 307 Knox records, out of North Carolina...they've actually been around since 2004, but are new to me despite putting out material from Future Islands, Gray Young and this split from Birds and Arrows and Billy Sugarfix's Carousel.

The A-Side from married duo, Birds and Arrows, is an exclusive track to the single: "Pride of Lions". It's all built around a slow folk acoustic melody and Pete's vocals at first. The way the percussion part during a break follows each syllable of a refrain sounds familiarly '70s...that sort of sad sounding huge production. Like Songs from a Room it's built out of sparse, simple instrumentation, a hint of a clarinet, triangle, or a flute, just for a forget it was even there because the focus of this song is on the two of their harmonies. This exercise in subtlety is a welcome style of restraint, they hold back all of their powers until Andrea starts belting out the title lyric towards the end, against Pete's own slightly offset direction....and as everything builds just to that point of meltdown it just drops off to the end...another nice change from that blown out catharsis moment.

The B-Side has Billy Sugarfix's Carousel doing 'If There's a Secret'. Mr. Sugarfix has a nasal sounding Billy Bragg singer-songwriter vocal mixed way out front and the title of this project gives you some idea as to the laid back half carnival fantastic feel. It's not exactly a realistic interpretation of his heartbreak...the eclectic instrumentation lives in that fantasy world. He's also working with a lady friend who's got an impressive trained vibratto getting that similar great conversational duo feel but in this case trading sections back and forth between them, not harmonizing so much and not talking to each other story-wise. The guy character seems to be going over this failed relationship in grocery stores....record stores...can't face the reality, while she doesn't seem very affected from her side, maybe even encouraging the attention. Their vocal styles are nicely contradictory, which makes sense in this contemporary folk ballad.

It's a well matched single for both bands styles. The big orchestration that never goes over the top with both of their duo guy/girl vocals, given the same ingredients end up in two completely different directions. Billy ends up with a lighthearted They Might be Giants feel to a classical lost love storytelling song and Birds and Arrows bring the sad, married Bowerbirds style.

This 7" is on sky blue mottled vinyl housed in a hand sewn wallpaper sample with huge gothic, victorian band titles silksceened on the front. It's the best kind of handmade package worthy of the limited 7" color single. 6 bucks from 307 Knox Records.

Birds and Arrows has not made vinyl records yet. Note we said yet.This is their first and by far not their last.
This limited run of mixed color vinyl (no two are alike) features Billy Sugarfix's Carousel on the flip side. Limited 500 handmade jacket
"Pride Of Lions" a brand new track from Birds and Arrows is not available anywhere else. It will however show up at some point on their next full length release. The covers for this 7" were handmade by all the artists and they too are pretty special.
We hope you enjoy this collectible record. Digital download included.

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