Them Bird Things
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Them Bird Things

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"Fruits of a Finnish-American translation"

English translation: Them Bird Things was one of the most critically acclaimed Finnish newcomers of the past year. Or maybe instead of “Finnish” I should be using the word “international” because the band’s material is penned by two American rock veterans from Mike & The Ravens: Mike Brassard and Steve Blodgett. The band itself is Finnish and you can find familiar faces from Branded Women, Kevin, Giant Robot and Shadowplay.

The band’s Finnish mini-tour ended at Lutakko this past Saturday. The band’s fans got to enjoy an intimate and excellent show, which was also their first visit to these latitudes. The music can’t really be called retro, though it is teeming with different kinds of influences recognizable from American music: Americana, blues, 60s psychedelia, pop etc. All nuts and bolts mesh seemlessly and the end result is something that has not been done before. It’s no surprise that the debut “Fly, Them Bird things, Fly!” also garnered recognition across The Pond.

This Saturday the band played songs from the first album, as well as from their upcoming sophomore effort. The new album will be out this year, and after hearing these tasty bits it will be at least as good as its predecessor.

The set started with some quieter touches, gradually getting louder. There were no weak moments and the most memorable songs were catchy pop song “Shame, Shame, Shame, Shame, Shame”, the small hit “Blood Bank”, and a delicate “The Drinker” which the band played as an encore. The band also chose to cover Bobbie Gentry’s classic gem, “Ode to Billy Joe,” a song that fit them like a glove.

There’s a good reason why Them Bird Things is personified by singer Salla Day. Her dark, unique voice and sensual interpretation are so out of this world that you simply have to stop, focus and listen. It’s hard to find comparison for such a charismatic sui generis. Even more baffling is the fact that she hasn’t really been singing before her tenure in this band.

- Mikko Siltanen, Keskisuomalainen


"Fly, Them Bird Things, Fly!"

Brain child of Will Shade, master of all things birds, this album gathers 12 previously unreleased songs written by Steve Blodgett and Mike Brassard, formerly of early ‘60s Plattsburgh rockers Mike & The Ravens. They insist on “NOT being a retro wannabe 60s band” and it’s mostly the voice of Finnish vocalist Salla Day that makes the whole thing pretty much timeless, described by The Monks’ own Gary Burger as “low, sultry, sexy and powerful and making you want to hear more... and see more”. ‘I Can See Russia From Here’ is not only my fave here but one of the best songs I’ve heard in a while, sounding like Eartha Kitt backed by Beefheart’s Magic Band, though the jazzy “intelligent pop” pair by way of The Zombies, ‘Blue Parakeet’ and ‘Your Baby’s Not Your Baby Anymore’, comes as close second. The remainder of the album proves that the authors have been through it all! Classic rock’n’roll, Del Shannon-like pre-Fab pop, Beau Brummels-like mid’60 folk-rock, fuzzy garage punk, along with a lysergic psychedelic trip or two. High contender for the album of the year if you ask me!
- Goran Obradovic, Shindig!


"Album review"

Surf rock from Finland? Well, you’d be hard-pressed to find more authentic writing, playing, arrangement or production of that style in the 21st century than you would from Them Bird Things, the pride of Helsinki Finland. But their album Fly, Them Bird Things, Fly is really more of an ultra-tuneful, moody folk-punk-psych set.


The band is fronted by chanteuse Salla Day, a singer possessed of a singular voice that is in turns kittenish, sultry and spooky. She sings with no discernible Finnish accent, but then this reviewer — like many people, I’d guess — wouldn’t know a Finnish accent if they were run over by one. There’s a punky undertone to the songs, even though they’re served up with subtlety and nuance. Them Bird Things will appeal to fans of Penelope Houston’s solo work (more people need to know about Houston, by the way).


The songs tread into wry noir territory: “Blood Bank” is a ditty about falling in love with the guy who takes your blood. Acoustic guitar figures prominently in all of Them Bird Things’ songs, but they definitely rock, in a sort of electric campfire kind of way. More fun than the Velvet Underground and darker than 4 Non Blondes, Them Bird Things often feature, er, chirpy vocal backing and sprightly guitar figures, but a moody vibe pervades the proceedings.


“Blue Parakeet” heads toward a cocktail vibe not unlike Todd Rundgren’s With a Twist excursion, and features sha-la-la-la vocals and electric sitar.


Music and lyrics on most songs are provided by Stephen Blodgett, an American who’s also a member of Mike and the Ravens, a very different group that this reviewer has also covered. The two projects also share songwriting contributions from Mike Brassard, and production from Will Shade, an American expatriate and frequent contributor to Mike Stax’s Ugly Things magazine (and, as it turns out, Salla Day’s spouse).


Certain themes crop up throughout the disc. Two songs make mention of Gibson guitars; is someone angling for a sponsorship or some free gear? No matter; the reference fits, makes sense, in both instances. “I Can See Russia From Here” is a film-noir epic that pokes fun at a certain airheaded former half-term governor, but the song is a sonic delight even if one doesn’t agree that the subject is, as Day sings, “trouble.” The track’s off-kilter guitar solo has hints of Sonic Youth. You betcha! “Shame Shame Shame Shame” — a track first recorded by Mike and The Ravens — is different from the original version but every bit as worthy; a neat trick. Here it’s a slightly CCR-styled romp. “Copper Bells” sounds like a lush Dusty Springfield number played at a hootenanny.

There are vague sonic connections between Them Bird things and Sweden’s A Camp, but Them Bird Things are much more decidedly unpolished. “Your Baby’s Not Your Baby Anymore” starts off with sounds you’d expect to find on a pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd album. The song remains in dark, moody territory but does so in a Astrud Gilberto kind of way. A bit of Pet Sounds era guitar sonics are mixed in, making the song a standout on an already excellent album.

The structure of “Black Petals” is reminiscent of the (excised) acoustic intro to Cheap Trick’s “Everything Works if You Let It.” Listen to the tune and try not to conjure visions of fog and darkness. The jangly epic “Pockets of Rain” sounds — except for Day’s vocals, of course, — like the Electric Prunes. And in fact Fly, Them Bird Things, Fly includes a liner notes endorsement from none other than James Lowe, lead singer for that legendary band. (The song’s end suggests how the song started out, and illustrates that while the songwriting is quite solid, the arrangements deserve equal praise.) The disc ends in a psychedelic, reverbed wash of sound.
More, Them Bird Things, more. Please, and soon.
- Bill Kopp, Musoscribe


"What the legends & critics are saying about Them Bird Things"

Salla Day has a very unique and original voice... a rock 'n' roll Joni Mitchell... Them Bird Things have great rock 'n' roll songs... fantastic lead guitar. - Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds, the only drummer to ever play in a group with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck & Jimmy Page

Salla Day's vocals are low, sultry, sexy and powerful and make you want to hear more... and see more. A crackerjack rhythm section and sweet guitar. This is great stuff that could have come from yesterday, but fortunately it's here now. Them Bird Things is the real deal. - Gary Burger, lead singer and lead guitar for the ’60s überbeat myths, The Monks

I really like the Them Bird Things album, most every track, including their version of "Shame," "Black Petals," "Pockets of Rain," and more. Really a cool project deserving to be heard outside of Finland. ' - Ken Barnes of USA Today

Another excellent new release is from Them Bird Things. Salla Day's distinctive vocals are the essence of their unique sound. It's really the whole experience of the album, the feel of it, if you will--the lyrics, the style of music, Salla's vocals--it all comes together for something really special. - Alison Hayes of Ugly Things

Old school rock 'n' roll played with the edge of the new wave and the passion that there could very well be no tomorrow. But if there is? Well, then thank god Them Bird Things used their intellect and good taste when they crafted this. Romantic and realistic. Very cool stuff. – Colin Bryce of Mohair Sweets

- various


Discography

singles: Shame, Shame, Shame, Shame, Shame (2009 Playground Music Finland), Like A Fire (2009 Playground Music Finland)
album: Fly, Them Bird Things, Fly! (2009, Playground Music Finland); currently streamed at www.myspace.com/thembirdthings

Photos

Bio

Formed in 2007, Them Bird Things is a collaboration between Finnish singer, Salla Day, and two American songwriting legends, Steve Blodgett and Mike Brassard, with producer Will Shade who drafted three Finnish musicians into their ranks to perform music that had crossed an ocean of time and space...