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Following their incendiary set at Third Man Records, NPR Music named Birds of Chicago one of the Best of Americanafest 2018. The band continues to ride a swell of good mojo that they’ve enjoyed in the Americana world since their inception, with live shows that alternate between moments of hushed attention and wild rock and soul abandon.
With their new album, Love in Wartime, they are set to both confirm that roots world buzz, and break on through to a wider audience across the world.
Recorded in Chicago against a backdrop of bewilderment, deep-divide and dread, Love in Wartime is a rock and roll suite with a cinematic sweep. Co-produced by Nero and Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), it evokes epic efforts of the 60’s and 70’s, with love as the undeniable throughline. As Russell puts it, “Any act of love is an act of bravery. These songs are snapshots of covenants, big and small, of trust and understanding. We want to give people some good news, and we want them to be able to dance when they hear it.”
When BOC released its last album, the Joe Henry produced Real Midnight, in 2016, critics scrambled to find the right terminology to describe the deep lyricism, gut-punch singing and fevered musicality. . . “Secular gospel” Was one phrase that caught some traction. That fervor is evident in Love in Wartime as well: “Roll Away the heavy stone/roll away the heavy hours/roll on in the summer mon/who’s alive who’s alive who’s alive?” The invitation is joyous, but urgent. . . call it “secular gospel,” or call it what they used to call poetry intoned over roots music mash-ups: rock n roll. The Birds consider themselves a rock and roll band first and foremost, and Love in Wartime doesn’t leave any doubt about that.
The Birds attract a mix of indy rockers, NPRists, jam-kids and folkies to their gigs. Says JT Nero, chief songwriter for the band, “A good show can send you back out into the night feeling–for at least a little while–that everything isn’t broken. . .Right now, we wanna dose out as much of that feeling as we can.”
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