Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Virgin of the Birds - Secret Kids

The easy observation regarding the music of Jon Rooney, the main man behind Seattle's Virgin of the Birds, is that he is an accomplished tunesmith.  And I suppose that alone might be enough to help Jon sell a few copies of his new album.  But like many good things in life, there is so much more complexity to this gift to our ears, brain and heart that Jon has named Secret Kids.  Jon writes music with layers, and you can take as much or as little as you choose.  The initial impression, of course, comes from the melodies.  Then you appreciate the adornments -- hooks, a chiming riff, a rock god run, an unleashed bass, a smile inducing bridge -- and those other things that separate an accomplished rock/pop band from your favorite garage band at 2am Saturday morning.

Of course, you need time for the lyrics.  The clever phrases grab you first, as they are meant to do.  One of the best is the title of the standout single "Spooky, Stony, Barely Over Thirty".  Beyond the quick rush of those phrases, your focus eventually is drawn to the stories themselves.  Jon has a keen eye, and a memorable way of taking the past, perhaps giving it a bit of a twist, and wrapping it up in verses that burn into the listener's memory.  You know the stories are someone else's, but Jon has a way of making them accessible.  For example, I've never had a lover tell me she wasn't in Spain even though I saw her there, but when I listen to "Spanish Accusations" and its delicious retro chord progressions, it reminds me of a few situations with past lovers.  And these lines from "Spooky, Stony, Barely Over Thirty" may tickle the memories of many of us for whom youth is in the rear view mirror:
We were wasted, we were warned 
We were vague and poorly formed 
We were soft, don't rub it in 
Almost lost, don't rub it in 


She was spooky, stony, barely over 30 
She allowed herself to dream of the crusade 
To lay waste to the city streets, and collapse every county seat 
And depart from the apartments of the easily laid
The songs on Secret Kids that impressed me most the first few listens were the up-temp songs "Cardinal Points", "Spooky, Stony, Barely Over Thirty", "Spanish Accusations", "Queen of Sweden", and "Summer Palace" (all of which are on my current, go-to playlist).  However, while the charms of the lovely "I Am A Bad Dreamer" or the withering "Victor Bockris" may show themselves more slowly, they are fully formed gems waiting your discovery.  How can anyone who has loved not connect with this line from "I Am A Bad Dreamer"?
I was dreaming of your love, I guess 
You were groping me, you were getting dressed 
I was carnal, I was careful 
When you came to me and gave to me my evils 
This album is a treasure not to be missed, dear readers.

Virgin Of The Birds is out now via Abandoned Love Records in North America and Song By Toad Records in the UK/Europe.

Virgin of the Birds' Bandcamp
Song By Toad Records' Bandcamp

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