While killing some time surfing Bandcamp (a bad habit I’ve recently developed), I came across the group Birds of Bellwoods and their 2015 EP, “The Fifth.” Thirty seconds into the sample, I was blown away and purchased the download immediately. The rest of the album has not disappointed – this is fabulous stuff.
For those of us of a certain age, barbershop quartets were a familiar piece of our cultural experience. Birds of Bellwoods’ tight harmonies suggest those days of yore, but the witty lyrics and up-tempo folk-rock instrumentation are definitely not from those olden years.
Just one line from “Roll Your Stone” has ingrained itself in my head as a really perceptive question for so many things in life: “And are you holding on, or are you just not letting go?” All five songs on the project are fantastic – my only quibble is that there are so few of them. “Grey Ghosts” starts quietly but rapidly builds up to a contained fury, while “The Fifth” closes out the album perfectly with a burst of energy. (If you feel particularly adventurous, there’s even a remix of “Grey Ghosts” by Flex the Antihero and M Mac.)
If you enjoy folk music with a modern twist, delivered by talented musicians with fabulous harmonies, Birds of Bellwoods is definitely worth checking out. (And if you are in the Toronto area on 15 December, they’re playing the Horseshoe Tavern.)