DISGUISED AS BIRDS - Black Circles / New Demons

Disguised As Birds - Black Circles / New Demons

10 songs
47:39 minutes
***** **


Normally I end a review by listing the different formats of availability for the record in question. With Disguised As Birds’ new double EP Black Circles / New Demons, things are more complicated, so I decided to reverse my modus operandi. First of all, it is available as a vinyl LP containing four songs each of the new EP Black Circles and of the EP New Demons from 2010. You also get with this one a download code for the digital releases which both contained one track more. Secondly, there is the CD edition which contains only the five songs of the Black Circles EP. Finally you can separately purchase the two EPs digitally. Now it’s up to you to make up your mind which item you prefer.

And now on to the proper review! Disguised As Birds are a quartet from Wisconsin whose hard hitting indie rock is strongly inspired by the Washington DC / Dischord sound of the early Nineties, but they occasionally find themselves rocking surprisingly hard and straightforward, which gives them a certain and very welcome edge. My promo copy came with all ten songs, starting with the five taken off Black Circles, their newest EP. The opener and title track instantly gives a good impression of what to expect. The guitar comes with a chorus-like effect that gives it ample space within the production. The bass guitar is very prominent, the way we know for instance from Fugazi. The drums are nice and dry, and the vocals are hoarse yet melodic. I also want to point out the really good backing vocals, which give the songs even more character. At their best of times, like on the upbeat Gladhands, they even recall Van Halen during their zenith years. This may sound strange, like an unlikely hybrid of indie and hard rock, but believe it or not: it works and is even quite original. The nearly seven minute long Song About A Gun (Fallen Windows) is unfortunately a surprisingly weak attempt at a ballad.

The older EP New Demons offers more of the same high quality stuff, with a possible slightly dirtier production. It is hard to say which half of this double EP I prefer, as both are quite good in their own way, and it’s only logical that with time comes a more sophisticated take at music. Once again, the Van Halen-like backing vocals turn up, this time on the opener Hayabusa’s Lament.

The record label compares Disguised As Birds to Jawbox and Juno, but if you are not so familiar with those, I suggest you check them out on their homepage. If you can imagine liking a harder rocking DC sound, then you’re in for a treat here. Vinyl lovers know which item to grab, anybody else is probably just as well off with the digital releases.

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