I’m always excited to hear that Andrew Kenny from Austin’s American Analog Set is up to something. Last year, he was on tour with Broken Social Scene for Kevin Drew’s album. A couple of months ago, I was pleased to hear that he had a new band, The Wooden Birds, and that their debut album, Magnolia, was released by Barsuk Records on May 12.
The album has quickly become one of my favourite releases by Kenny. It sounds like American Analog Set going all John Wesley Harding, kind of. The signature guitar sound is still there, just as great as it ever was, but it’s the rhythm section that sets Magnolia apart from his previous releases. The bass and percussion are what give the album a distinct feeling to it. The sparse drumming and shakers set a mood that plays through the album, giving it a clear direction and tone. It really makes the record feel like an album, not just a collection of songs.
Lyrically, there are just as many gems on this record as any from American Analog Set. ‘Hometown Fantasy’, an old favourite of mine from the Home series, featuring Kenny with Ben Gibbard, gets the Wooden Bird treatment and is kicked up a notch, making it a new favourite of mine. On ‘Seven Seventeen’ I find myself questioning Kenny’s lyrics, which tell the love story of a seven and a seventeen year old. A bit odd, but it also happens to be my favourite sounding song on the album.
If this is the direction Kenny continues to head, I wouldn’t be too sad if The Wooden Birds became a more permanent fixture than American Analog Set. He seems comfortable in this band; his songs suit the sound quite well. Still, I’ll keep hoping for a Broken Social Scene Presents: Andrew Kenny record.