It’s alive … again!

Phoenix series, part one:

Birds of Fire have re-risen! Or, more accurately, they’ve reinvented. After an extended period of only sporadic performing, the latest incarnation of the Chico band is debuting its new album, Reinvention, at a CD-release party at Café Coda next Thursday, July 29. The new disc was recorded by Origami Lounge stud Scott Barwick, and features founders Matt Daugherty (guitar) and Zach Ahern (bass), plus Chico rock mainstays Adam Scarborough of La Fin du Monde on guitar and The Yule LogsJake Sprecher on drums. I’ve had only a couple of somewhat-muffled listens to the disc on my crappy computer speakers at this point, but much as with the band’s earlier versions the approach is a wide-open exploration of melodies, rhythm, song structure and tones. (At this moment the fourth track, “Outside,” has lulled me into following sprite, muted riffs that repeat many times before taking sharp, spiky rhythmic turns that suddenly launch onto a soaring wave of thick guitar fuzz.)

The variety of tone is refreshing, and a welcome break from the usual loud-and-flat delivery of most every new instrumental band, and it allows BOF to explore dynamics more interesting than simply flexing time-signature muscles.


Phoenix series, part two:

The fast will not stop until the novel is completed which is to say a solid piece of food will not enter my mouth until the first draft of a 40,000+ word work of fiction has been produced.

If art is suffering, then these daunting introductory words by Ty Gorton on his Fasting Words blog would seem to hold great promise for some art. The local painter, writer, publisher and promoter is laying bare his soul on this intimate web peephole ( into his very personal artistic quest, where he’s thrown down the gauntlet in order to transform himself from being a “writer” to being a “writer who writes.”

As we go to press, the fast and the writing (both on the blog and on the novel) have been going strong for a week and a half! Drop in and follow Ty’s trip, and maybe take a minute to leave an encouraging comment … or just lurk and watch the experiment unfold.

Beat goes on.

Phoenix series, part three:

And on the 28th day, God created college rock. Or was it 28th Day who created it? Chico’s short-lived 28th Day is as responsible as R.E.M. for starting me down the road of college to alternative to indie rock, and on the 28th day of the eighth month of this year, the trio of Barbara Manning, Cole Marquis and Mike Cloward will rise again on the tiny stage at Duffy’s Tavern.

Normally, I can take or leave reunion shows. But for those old faves whose sound never gets old or feels dated, a reunion show can be a chance to enjoy the band in a manner similar to their heyday. A snotty Pitchfork writer said a few years ago in an (often backhandedly) complimentary review of 28th Day’s Complete Recordings reissue: “for a split second … they really were the best band in the world.” And it’s true. And, as a fan-boy/fan-girl bonus, after the band rocks its classics, members of the audience will be invited to come on stage and cover the band’s songs themselves! Details about online sign-ups TBA.