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Andrew Kenny has not slowed down since indie-rock favorite, the American Analog Set, disbanded after nearly 10 years in 2008. After leaving his spot in Columbia University’s Ph.D biochemistry program in 2003 to devote a full-time schedule to music, he’s also toured and worked with the likes of Broken Social Scene and Ola Podrida. With a recent move from Brooklyn back to his Texas roots in Austin, Kenny is now fronting the Wooden Birds, who are embarking on a North American tour in support of their sophomore release, Two Matchsticks.
While the Wooden Birds’ sound is a departure from the layered, drone-pop styling of the American Analog Set, Andrew Kenny’s marquee guitar work, progressions, and storytelling about life, love, and heartbreak are omnipresent. This record draws on rich and dynamic folk rock with subtle backing beats, all held together with hypnotic crooning by Kenny and other members of the band.
The Wooden Birds boast a solid lineup of three other Austinites—drummer Sean Haskins, and guitarists-singers Leslie Sisson and Matt Pond. Magnolia, the Wooden Bird’s first release, was conceived by Kenny before the band actually existed. In the case of Two Matchsticks, the majority of the songs were played and worked out live before going into the studio—a methodology the band was pleased with as it allowed them to set the songs’ tempo and styling before rolling tape.
That said, one beauty of this album is that the live sound of the Wooden Birds is not necessarily captured on the recording. Yes, Kenny’s trademark guitar sounds ooze from the album, but he is the bassist for this collaborative effort while on tour. Additionally, you won’t hear any drums on this album—like Magnolia, most all the backing rhythm beats were created by banging on Kenny’s “world’s most poorly cared for” Gibson J-45, along with some maracas and tambourine.
The Wooden Birds have concocted a superbly blended elixir of vocal harmonies and atmospheric twang with a spot-on balance of folk-pop, country, and indie flavor. Movingly catchy, soft, and beautiful, this record will quickly inspire the need to take a summer road trip.