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Birdmonster - No Midnight
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: June 22, 2006

Review by Tony Bonyata

Funny how it didn't seem that long ago that in order for a band to succeed in the music industry they needed a label with distribution and heavy media promotions. Talent was, quite often, optional. Dylan proclaimed four decades ago that "the times they are a-changin'," and, at least as far as building a career in the world of rock is concerned, this credo is just as relevant today. Now with little more than some instruments, a laptop and Internet access a band can build a successful career right out of their bedroom. Just ask indie bands such as Arctic Monkeys, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Tapes 'n Tapes, who've seemingly become overnight sensations with the help of immense buzz and hype throughout Internet music blog sites. Talent in these cases, however, is a prerequisite.

Enter the San Francisco quartet Birdmonster - one of the latest bands to emerge from virtually cost-free promotions in the world of ones and zeroes. From the influential Cincinnati-based Internet-only radio station getting behind the band earlier this year with heavy spins and, more recently, a Lounge Acts in-studio performance, to influential blog sites such as Music (For Robots) and The Tripwire  respectively proclaiming that their album "rocks in the way that classic rock albums do" and "imagine Modest Mouse in a moshpit intermittently bashing listeners over the head with a banjo," the band is practically guaranteed great draws at their shows as soon as the indie-kids close their PowerBooks.

On Birdmonster's self-released debut album, No Midnight, the foursome waste little time setting the tone for this effort as they kick into the energetic rocker "Skeleton Suit," fueled by spastic guitars from David Klein and Peter Arcuni, a tight-but-loose rhythm section from bassist Justin Tenuto and drummer Zach Winter, as well as Arcuni's angst-ridden vocal delivery. While other numbers, such as the immediacy of "Sparrow," filled with Tom Verlaine guitar flourishes, and the dirty pop of the album's closer "Spaceman," pack a similar punch, the album is brimming with other songs of varying textures and stimulating tempo changes. A slow groove and two intertwining guitars string along through "Ball of Yarn," before becoming unraveled into a majestic, no-nonsense jam by song's end. On "Of Mice" the track trades a soft, introspective banjo line and Arcuni's  breathy whispers with a stomping beat and muffled vocal yelp, while songs such as "What's With Your Brain" and the testosterone-fueled "Alabama" lean towards an edgier brand of pop rock. Even the banjo-laced title track successfully shotgun weds inbred-country with accessible left-of-center indie-rock for pleasing results.

What No Midnight might lack in production quality (with a rough, unpolished sound throughout), the band more than makes up for it with unbridled energy, sweat-soaked passion and genuine rock 'n roll ingenuity.

With a strong debut album and word spreading like wildfire throughout the web that their explosive live show is one not to be missed, Birdmonster seem ready to take flight from the desktop to the spotlight.

Birdmonster's self-released No Midnight CD can be purchased directly from the website at:

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