Rising from the ashes of the much-loved Lunchbox, which released a string of critically-acclaimed albums in the late-1990s/early 2000s on the seminal Portland, Oregon-based indie label Magic Marker Records, Birds of California played their debut set at the 2009 San Francisco Popfest.
By turns spacey and sunshiny, their fuzzed-out, horn-driven sound is equal parts shoe-gaze, mod-pop and “Pet Sounds.” Fronted by former Lunchbox members Tim Brown and Donna McKean, the band features veteran indiepopper Stewart Anderson (Boyracer) on drums. Ron Mckean, Amr Toppozada, and Jeremy Goody round out the six-piece.
All songs were recorded and mixed by Tim Brown, Stewart Anderson and Jeremy Goody at The Cave of Anti-Matter in Roslindale, Massachusetts, The Desert Redoubt in Flagstaff, Arizona, and Megasonic Sound in Oakland, California.
“The three songs … on the Birds’ side from ex-Lunchbox personnel engagingly intertwine reverb, indie jangle and spirited brass in a way that takes its cue from Lunchbox’s “Summer’s Over” mini-album but which takes it a little further, giving it a spacey, even dubby vibe.” — In Love With These Times, in Spite Of These Times, January 2010 (review of split 7” with Kristin Mess on 555 Recordings).
RIYL: Lunchbox, Lilys, Wedding Present, Shins, The Who, My Bloody Valentine, Polyphonic Spree, Beulah, Bach.
EDIT April 19, 2010: Review on Girl About Town:
There is a lot to be said for the joyful pop music being created by Roslindale, Massachusetts’ group Birds Of California. Their New Haven, Connecticut label February Records (formerly Tweefort) has just released a new single by the group, featuring three songs, that are available online for free download. … The BOC have a little bit of that late-sixties influence, and coupled with horns, a mod-ish melodica- sounding organ, and their very splendid layered-guitar and lead bass lines; the group brings to mind the happier pop of compositions by Van Dyke Parks and the early psych-sunshine or 90’s shoegaze- pop of indie groups like The Eggs, or The Boo Radleys–packed with a bit more crunch, and feedback of course!
EDIT April 21, 2010: Review on Fensepost:
Opening and closing tracks “Great Expectations” and “Laugh Out Loud” are both complemented by Anderson’s signature erratic predilection toward snare-heavy drumming, while Goody drives home the horns throughout. And Brown’s vocals are precisely that which gives the twee-pop fan their jollies. Birds of California has a sound you’d expect to hear from bands on labels like Magic Marker; this is no surprise as Lunchbox released several items on the label. It’s true, though — the band has that bouncy, sloppy pop sound that makes the music immensely good and insatiably fun.
EDIT April 23, 2010: Review on Beerandbands:
Birds Of California have 2 of Lunchbox and a member of Boyracer among their number, so they’ve got a fine pedigree from the beginning. They make a fuzzy, melodic swirling pop packed with melody and harmony and powered by horns. First track ‘Great Expectations’ being a case in point. Horn driven lines, coupled with little interesting sonic flourishes and a strong melody point the way.
EDIT April 30, 2010: Review on Brill Dream:
‘Saturday’ is the middle track of three, and is sensibly infectious. You know when youre in a car on a gorgeous sunny day, and a track comes on that you dont normally like, but it some how fits and you find yourself singing along? Well, this like a track that you DO like in the same situation. By the time the trumpets kick in, you may have jaw ache from smiling. Its like Brian Wilson discovering fuzz.
EDIT May 1, 2010: Feature on bleek spook blog.
EDIT May 3, 2010: Review on Sugar Sours:
Ramshackle jangle-pop. Fuzzy shoegaze. Surfy horns. Boys racing for their lunchboxes. A useless stream of consciousness to try to summarize Birds of California. Actually, they’re a six piece that’s comprised of Tim Brown and Donna McKean of Lunchbox, Stewart from Boyracer, and Ron Mckean, Amr Toppozada, and Jeremy Goody, who all just happen to be awesome. And they actually do mix the aforementioned elements to make some fantastic indie-pop. The genre bending single Great Expectations is available as a free download from Tweefort-cum-February Records just in time to keep you cool during the terrible transition to summer.
EDIT May 10, 2010: Review on Milk Milk Lemonade:
For those who haven’t already skipped ahead to listen, be prepared for a clean, yet surprisingly warm take on mod/britpop balanced by a respectable level of shoegaze-influenced and downright fuzzed-out guitar backdrop. Add in the simple accompaniment of horns and we are now smitten. Not entirely sure we’ve ever experienced this particular combination of sounds, but the result is just lovely.
EDIT May 11, 2010: Review on Side Ponytail