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"MKTD Review"

Reviewed by Mark Horan of PopMatters

Biirdie is a new trio specializing in a slightly trippy brand of chamber pop. On the group's debut CD, Morning Kills the Dark, leader Jared Flamm displays some classy song writing coupled with a strong Phil Spector/Brian Wilson-like production, and the end result is an emotionally powerful and musically diverse effort that will certainly have people taking notice.

You can really feel the love that has gone into the making of this album, which was recorded in Flamm's native Florida, in and around his new home of L.A. and quite a few points in between. It's as honest a record as you're going to hear, as it documents Flamm's travels across the country, touching on universal themes such as love (or more importantly, the loss of love), regret, the restlessness that comes with losing one's direction, and ultimately a glimpse at arriving at some sort of personal realization and redemption. It's one of the few albums that gives a voice to all the little in-between stuff that occupies our lives most of the time; the grey that divides the black and white, or the things that we just can't seem to put our finger on, much less verbally explain to each other. Biirdie are adept at occupying this ground and giving it a definitive shape, all the while delivering music that is constantly fresh yet still somewhat familiar sounding.

Heavy? Well yeah, but Morning Kills the Dark manages to convey these sometimes awkward emotions in the most straightforward and personal way, avoiding the wallowing that too often accompanies this type of subject matter. Flamm, along with singer Kala Savage (sister of The Wonder Years' Fred Savage for all you music trivia buffs) and drummer Richard Gowen, have crafted some exquisite harmonic melodies to wrap around the visual lyrics, recalling everything from the Beach Boys to Brill Building pop to Ben Folds with a dash of The Velvet Underground and Burt Bacharach thrown in for good measure.

Morning Kills the Dark is divided into a "Morning Side" and a "Dark Side", with the more experimental fifth track, "Hotel Piano", (with its Pink Floyd-like elements) acting as a buffer between the two conflicting sides. Oddly enough it's the supposed "Dark Side" that is the poppier and more streamlined of the two, with its accessible melodies and simpler production style making it an increasingly satisfying listen to my ears. "I Got You (On My Mind)" cleverly evokes Burt Bacharach's "What the World Needs Now" with its "love, sweet love" line, and the blend of Framm's and Savage's voices is a little slice of pop heaven. Savage is a stronger presence on these later tunes, which shine brighter because of it. Her vocal on "I'm Going to Tell You Something" is especially sublime and sexy, and the natural interplay between her and Framm is again evident on the excellent "To Know That You Need Me".

The promise of great things to come is hard to ignore here, and Jared Flamm has been making music long enough to realize that he's onto something special with Biirdie. The three members seemingly blend effortlessly as they wind their way through the 10 tracks on Morning Kills the Dark, and while it's clear that this is essentially Flamm's vehicle right now, the others aren't there merely to serve his ideas. Savage and Gowen add their own distinctive stamp to the songs, and Flamm is smart enough to acknowledge this and just let the songs develop naturally.

This is a great album to curl up with on a rainy day, and it just seems to get stronger and deeper with every listen. While the earlier tracks tend to overreach a bit, with their ambitious arrangements sometimes falling just shy of the mark, Morning Kills the Dark is still a fine debut album from a band that will hopefully be laying down the soundtrack to our lives for many years to come. - Pop Matters

"MKTD Review 2"

Reviewed by Nate Seltenrich of Glorious Noise

Biirdie, by most accounts an indie pop trio with a psychedelic slant, was formed in Daniel Lanois' Silverlake, CA home while he was out of town. On the day before Halloween, 2003, Jared Flamm was housesitting for the accomplished producer when he met Kala Savage (sister of Ben and Fred), who was working locally as an actress. Together, with Flamm's friend Richard Gowen, they jammed in Lanois' living room to songs like "Pale Blue Eyes" for forty minutes at a time. Included in that living room was Dylan's Time Out of Mind piano, which turned out to be magic once again.

The magnificent debut Morning Kills the Dark is divided into two five-track parts – the "Morning Side" and the "Dark Side." As one might expect, the "Morning Side" is exuberant and playful, holding promise and hope for the future in regards to things like friendship, love, and the places we call home. The "Dark Side," conversely, feels somber and melancholy, and dwells on the more trying realities of much of the same subject matter.

From the rise of dawn to the fall of dusk, Morning Kills the Dark features stunning vocal harmonies, lush melodies, and bright instrumentation. Its music fills the air like a warm haze, gently easing the listener down to rest in a fog of auditory anesthesia. But this calm is mated to exhilaration, as in a dreamt view from above. The album's most singular moments haunt like a new love: "To Know That You Need Me" – the first time that I heard it, I wrote down "Jesus this song is beautiful;" "The Other Side of Sunset" – opens with a spiritual high/low vocal harmony over patiently pacing piano chords; "I Got You (On My Mind)" – through creatively sparse guitar, synth, and drum fills, the up-and-down melody is never lonely, but never lost; "California is Waiting" – "I'm going to California from this little Florida town / From Hollywood to Silverlake, I'm Los Angeles bound / With tons of cars and five-pointed stars on every sidewalk street / What California doesn't have is you / You and me," Flamm sings with the weariness of two thousand miles in his voice.

Not since Pet Sounds have I heard a pop album with so much orchestrated gorgeousness, so much emotional and aural appeal, so much genuine sentiment. If that classic Beach Boys album is a symphony to God, Morning Kills the Dark is a symphony to life. And it's no less powerful to behold.Streaming audio available on myspace.

March 08, 2005. - Glorious Noise

"MKTD Review 3"

Reviewed by Dave Heaton of Erasing Clouds

Biirdie's Morning Kills the Dark opens with a song about Jenny Lewis that also references a song by her band Rilo Kiley, and closes with a song that sounds quite like Bright Eyes (and David Dondero by relation). Is Biirdie angling to become the next California band to get the attention of a certain label from Omaha? I don't know, and it doesn't matter, really. For while I can't quite shake the feeling that Biirdie are consciously pushing their sound in a certain direction, Morning Kills the Dark is still a great reminder that you don't have to sound completely original to make a rewarding album, that the most affecting songs aren't necessarily the most innovative.

Morning Kills the Dark is an emotional tale of moving across the country, falling in love, feeling wistful about the past...all those things we all do. The album has a very personal, intimate feeling to it, and not just because the band's lead singer Jared Flamm and harmony singer Kala Savage seem to be singing love songs to each other half the time. The warmth comes from lyrics filled with details that feel in synch with real life, with real feelings and experiences. But it also comes from the sound of the album, and the instrumentation. Piano, guitars, voices all feel like they're cloaked with a glow.

Hazy country-pop and a certain style of open-hearted indie-folk are at the forefront of Biirdie's sound, and they come together in a way that, as I said, feels rather familiar. But that familiarity also generates comfort, which intensifies the feeling that the album is about your life as much as it's about theirs. Yet there also are plenty of small moments on the album where the music diverges from its expected track, and these shouldn't be overlooked. There's the dub reggae break in "You've Got Darkness", the church-choir vocals on "The Other Side of Sunset," the nearly psychedelic crawl the music trips into at one point during the really lovely ballad "To Know That You Need Me," only to then clarify itself as the mood of a clear sunny day.

Morning Kills the Dark is split into the "morning side" and the "dark side", yet the light and the dark are clearly intertwined all the way through. The title tells you which side wins, too; on the whole the album stands as a tender portrait of the ways that we can find brightness in even the darkest moments. That brightness, the morning, is essentially love, affection, human connection. "I'm gonna tell you something/something that is true/put it in a letter/hope it gets to you," long-distance lovers sing to each other near the end of the album. That same sentiment guides the album, in a way. Morning Kills the Dark has a lot of truth in it, a lot of beauty, and those are things that ultimately override the deja vu feeling. - Erasing Clouds

"MKTD Review 4"

Reviewed byJonathan Zwickel of New Times

Published: Thursday, March 10, 2005
Recalling the sly intimacy of Lou Reed and Maureen Tucker during their quieter moments, the duo of Jared Flamm and Kala Savage provides the serene poetry that makes this Biirdie fly. Though Morning's dreamy, dusty songs are colored by an array of instruments -- rich piano, minimal percussion, wavy synths, subtle electronic whispers -- and additional vocals by third man Richard Gowen, it's the closeness of their intertwined voices on bojangling pop suites like "You've Got Darkness" and "The Other Side of Sunset" that lingers after the music fades. There's a Florida connection here -- these ten songs were recorded in Gowen's Jacksonville home, along with five other domestic-type locations across the country. The band also shares a record label with Boca Raton whisper-folkers Summer Blanket.
In the midst of playfully baroque musical arrangements and saccharine harmonies, Biirdie would be ironic if it weren't so earnest, introverted if it weren't so yearning. In the end, what emerges is achingly tender, fleetingly psychedelic chamber pop, informed as much by Wilco and Yo La Tengo as the lighter side of the Velvets. With a title that reads exactly like the music sounds, Morning Kills the Dark is the cozy night-light and the furtive darkness around it. - New Times

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Morning Kills The Dark LP (2005)
Glendale EP (2004)


Feeling a bit camera shy


"Morning Kills the Dark" pretty much tells the story of the last year or so of our lives. Kala’s and mine, that is. It’s the two of us and our best friend Richard that are the heart of Biirdie. Together and apart we pieced together the album from recording sessions from at least six different locations that include Mike Andrews’ Glendale home, Travis Huff’s Los Feliz backyard studio, Richard and his mom’s Jacksonville, Florida, home, Kala’s brother Fred’s Hollywood Hills home and our West Hollywood apartment when our lousy neighbors weren’t around.

Half of the songs were recorded by Bob Maynard on his portable Roland VS-1824 workstation and Travis recorded the other half. This is our first full-length album and we made it for and about our friends, family and each other. It’s part Florida, part California and a lot of in-between. I think it’s nearly the tenth album I’ve been a part of in as many years and it’s my proudest moment, words and music. MKTD is honest and heavy, it’s raw and a testament to hard work, perseverance and love. It’s a commitment to a lifestyle and to friendship.

Kala and I met the day before Halloween in 2003 while I was house-sitting for Daniel Lanois in Silver Lake, California. At that time, I was working as the road manager on Daniel’s Shine tour and Kala was busy working as an actress. She had recently returned from a summer in New York where she appeared on Broadway and she was guest starring on a TV show. Richard was in from Jacksonville and the three of us bonded over movies, shopping malls, Chinese food and The Velvet Underground. Richard and I met two years earlier while we were both playing in an alt-country band that recorded one album for Oakland’s Hightone label. He is known around the Jacksonville record shops and art bars for his encyclopedic knowledge of music and film. His home collection is nearly 30 thousand titles deep.

Daniel had an awesome amount of gear set up in his living room, including the Time Out of Mind piano and we’d jam on songs like “Pale Blue Eyes” for forty minutes at a time. Richard played drums, Kala played bass and I’d play the Dylan piano. It was effortless for us to sing well together. Kala sang the high part, I sang the low part and Richard sang the in-between. I think that those first days are where a big part of our sound evolved from and I don’t think that much thought went into it. It just kind of happened that way.

Soon, Kala and I wrote our first song together, and the first track on MKTD. “Open Letter To Jenny,” a waltz and a tribute of sorts to Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis who Kala first met years ago when her brother and Jenny made a movie together. Kala and I wrote “The Other Side of Sunset” and “You’ve Got Darkness” next as she taught herself to play the piano, microKorg synthesizer and the xylophone.

The songs were happening and their lyrics and melodies were indebted not only to our love of rock and roll and R&B, but also to Tin Pan Alley, Doo Wop and Brill Building Pop. Within weeks we had written nearly all of MKTD. “Hotel Piano,” the album’s centerpiece, was the last song written for MKTD and its two-minute plus noise experiment ties the Morning and Dark sides of the album together. In “Hotel Piano,” and all of the songs on MKTD, you get the whole truth, nothing pulled and no bullshit. It’s the story of our lives from Miami skies to the hills of Echo Park.

- Jared