North Carolina represented at Bowery Ballroom as Bowerbirds and their buddies Mandolin Orange took to the stage to folk rock the house. In-between were BBC Sound of 2012 members Dry the River who impressed me again.
Bowerbirds are touring behind their third album, The Clearing. It's much more than just a folk album, then again, Bowerbirds are more then just a folkies with down home melodies. Their first time albums, Hymns for a Dark Horse and Upper Air, were stripped won affairs. The new music has more diverse and fuller melodies and instrumentation. You'll hear string arrangements and pianos. Even the slide guitar seems to take on a new dimension.
Haven't never seen Bowerbirds before, I kind of figure it wouldn't be a ruckus affair. It was what I expected, a few good tunes, beautifully sung by Philip Moore and Beth Tacular. I was impressed by how effortless they performed such stirring tunes like "Brave World" and "Stitch the Hem". The two and their band were comfortable on stage and with playing somber tunes about heartache and darkness. If any, I would love to have a sweet accordion like Beth plays.
Dry the River are opening for Bowerbirds on this North America tour. I saw them last year with Alena Diane and knew they were going to be a band to watch. As mentioned before, the London-bases band made BBC's Sound of 2012 list and are signed a major label, RCA. Although, the band didn't know when their debut album will get a proper U.S. date. I'll help you out lads, April 17. I suppose they are the U.K. answer to the pastoral sounds of Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes. You hear them same echoing vocals, haunting violins and finger-picking guitar chords.
Not that I'm bemoaning the fact that Dry the River are opening and they are still a relatively unknown band, but their sound is too dynamic for them to be opening for the quiet and contemplative Bowerbirds. Dry the River owned the night. They end their set with all the members banging their bands and stomping their feet. All you can see is long hair flying around on stage in some epic free-for-all of crushing guitars and pounding drums. They leave the stage and the energy in the room is at a major high. Then Bowerbirds had to follow that.
Mandolin Orange were some darn nice and pleasant. They told funny stories about being from Carolina and driving in the big bad city. Plus, they played some nice tunes as well, similar to Bowerbirds in style -- simple, folksie and a little rough-around-the-edges. I get myself to North Carolina, after I gain 100 lbs eating BBQ, I can gaze over the mountains, listen to Bowerbirds and Dry the River and feel right in place.