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BRACE for the

Birds of Tokyo

By Ian Browne Shamrock News

From the outset BRACE suggests nothing but ‘heavy’ from the BIRDS OF TOKYO. Their fifth album, its lyrically doomsday, while the sound is uplifting in its nonintrusive invitation to self-empowerment. With moments reminiscent of chord arrangement TOOL and MUSE, I wasn’t surprised to hear that David Bottrill, a Canadian who had also produced for these two popular bands, weaved his dark magic here.

The album’s showcase single ‘Empire’, its vocals in part not dissimilar in sound to Dave Grohl, caters for all types. This song’s popularity saw it splayed across a massive TV audience, accompanied by a ready-made mosh pit - as the BIRDS OF TOKYO opened for the first ‘State of Origin’ game this year in Brisbane. Though the ‘all boys’ private school ‘mosh’ was hardly authentic; drearily lacklustre, just quietly, the ‘familiar’ sound with its “they don’t want to be there when the sky begins to roll” remains a real winner.

A very popular Perth outfit, the BIRDS OF TOKYO have been groomed over the indie-airways by the likes of Triple J. With a swag of ARIA awards under their belts, they are known as Australia’s biggest alternative rock band. International audiences have also taken to the ‘Birds’, especially in the U.S. They gigged recently in Byron Bay and have been busy touring SE Queensland, while October sees an exciting fixture in Pokolbin with Midnight Oil and Ash Grunwald.

An album where all songs are enjoyed, my favourite tunes from Brace are the sonic-darkwave-esc ‘Gods’, ‘Discoloured’ (which suitably features my favourite Hayley Mary) and ‘Pilot’. Another song much appreciated, and which sees the album out, is ‘Mercy Arms’. It’s funny as it begins like the dreamy start to The JEZABELS’ ‘Stand and Deliver’. The keyboards then roll in like the lengthy lead-in to a RUFAS track, only to be carried along in the background like a church organ in a SISTERS OF MERCY’s song instead, engulfed and manipulated by a powerful rhythm section.

Metal’s melodic vocals have always repelled me. I adjusted to this ‘just’ when I fell in love with ANTHRAX. But front man Ian Kenny’s voice was born to another realm, more akin to an indie life, and he hold his notes well, while the band’s on-stage wardrobe is neither Glam nor ‘banger’ metal. While past Canadian tech-metal innovators, VOIVOD, were more intensive with their time/riffage arrangements, Brace still allows for creative change ups; juicy power chords and piercing fills, backed up by grungy bass and thumping percussion, which all provide suitable grunt to emotive storylines. I love the thrusting, jabbing chords in the single ‘Brace’, it really takes me back to the heady days of 80’s ‘Skatecore’.

Younger audiences aplenty will have their own personal identification tag for this band’s musical journey, neither can I speak on behalf of longstanding BIRDS OF TOKYO fans. But for those willing to try something new, I doubt you’d be disappointed. For those who cringe the imaginative, you could look at it like this: ‘Heavy Rock’, yet suitably enhanced by its captivating drama of melancholic-yearnings for the rest of us. This turn towards a heavier, darkwave sound? Well, change is a like a holiday (in Gotham). A friend asked me ‘how many fish from a bucket of five’ would I pick for this CD? Somewhere between 4 to 5, which is apt as I bought it as a “I survived Cyclone Debbie” sale in Lismore.

I love BRACE, it beat that muddy Debbie, and delivers some sonic balls, while I am filled with wonder as to what the next BIRDS OF TOKYO album will bring to us all.

Thanks Triple J - ABC for the snap


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