Aftermath: Wooden Birds at Walter's on Washington

For a thirsty crowd looking to begin their Independence Day weekend in earnest, there was no better place to be last night than Walter's off Washington.

As of late, there has been a swelling resurgence in the earthy tones and folk-carnie vibe of bands like The Band. One could blame the repeated airings of The Last Waltz on VH1 Classic, or maybe it's just that the style is too damned alluring for a group of musicians to not try to at least perfect for their own musical journey. We have them here in Houston, with folks like tonight's openers News On the March literally chiming their live shows away with vintage Helmsian shimmer.

Other Lives have somehow melded that woodland vibe with the pleading plinking of a Radiohead. The comparison is not a new one; the Stillwater, Oklahoma-based band has been hearing that from indie blogs the world over after their breakthrough dates at this years South by Southwest in Austin. We remember catching a snippet of them once or twice while we were lost in that musical maelstrom and now we are sad we didn't stop and breathe them in.

Lead singer Jesse Tabish inhabits the stage just like that Yorke guy, but drawing a way more of commanding lilt to the proceedings. In small space like Walter's he came off as downright gospel, with the band's somber cello and harmonium sounds echoing over the din of clinking bottles and conversation. The band's "Black Tables" was used this past year on your girlfriend's favorite TV show Grey's Anatomy and the assembled crowd cheered at its arrival and just as quickly settled in for its performance.

The Wooden Birds began their set while the smokers and drinkers were outside getting their bearings from Other Lives. This is Andrew Kenny's latest project away from American Analog Set. That band is currently on hold while Kenny and the rest of the group go off to pollinate elsewhere. The Birds don't fall far from the AmAnSet tree at all, in keeping with the foliage motif. Their debut Magnolia is a solid twelve-song stroll through Kenny's somber world.

Kenny wrenches out quiet anthems from his bass in front of two guitarists and a drummer and percussionist. Its rainy day lovers rock that is no doubt aching from forlorn playlists manufactured by indie nation. The addition of a female voice like guitarist Leslie Sisson's only adds to his arching tunes he somehow is able to sweat out daily.

After all the death and estrangement going on around town, it was nice to have these two bands help the collective there at Walter's to ease the comedown.

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty