Usually bands — and their labels — try to milk their newfound success for all they can before moving on to another record, so it was something of a surprise when Seabird recently released their sophomore album, Rocks Into Rivers, a mere 18 months after their 2008 debut, ‘Til We See the Shore. Tracks from Shore appeared on TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Numb3rs and Pushing Daisies, plus they were featured in a Paste CD sampler, and with good reason: this quartet makes piano pop songs that are among the best around. It is something of a wonder that more people have not yet latched onto this band, but this quartet is gradually making its presence known on the music scene, and the steady influx of new fans should continue for the foreseeable future.
The band’s first single off Rocks Into Rivers, “Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful,” is a perfect representation of the album’s tone and sound. A tale of a woman whose world has shattered to pieces because of her parents’ divorce, it is an epic love song meant to remind her — and all of us, really, regardless of where we find ourselves in life — that we are all far more valuable than we can possibly imagine. Skyscraping guitars and strong vocals from singer Aaron Morgan bring the message home with stark clarity and power. Like this track, most of the album’s 12 songs are simultaneously loaded with the sort of beauty and fire that some bands strive for their entire careers, yet rarely achieve.
Much like their debut album, most of the tracks on Rocks Into Rivers are sung and performed with such passion that they feel cathartic, which is fitting because a lot of the material the band writes is deeply personal to them. Songs like “The Good King” and “Baby I’m in Love” are filled with the vitality of new life as they focus, respectively, on life through a newborn’s eyes, and realizing how your pregnant wife is already becoming an amazing mother. Songs like “The Road” and the title track stir up some soul-searching questions and feelings as well, delving respectively into the difficult curve balls that life throws at us and the unfortunate reality that we take far too many things for granted far too easily.
The band effectively mixes glorious melodies and exciting rock ’n’ roll grooves with just the right amount of quirkiness, subtle moments and insightful lyrics to be more than just a good time. Unafraid to give their audience meaty sounds and meaningful content, Seabird is bound to put on a show that will resonate with the audience’s emotional side without devolving into emo-style histrionics. Fans of Coldplay, Maroon 5 and the like should be pleased by what they hear.
One of the other acts appearing will be the California-based quintet, Sherwood. One listen to half the tracks on their Myspace page and you can sense that not only are they on their way up in the music world, but their material is likely to play well on stage too. Their latest release, QU, is a hybrid of indie rock and anthemic power pop that is loaded with energy and filled with everything from ethereal guitars to hand-clapping beats and surround sound-style echoing choruses.
From the Vertical Horizon-esque “You Are” to the hints of Barenaked Ladies heard in “Hit the Bottom,” there are more than a few double-take moments on this album, but that is far from being a bad thing. Even when they sound similar to other bands, the band infuses enough creativity into their tracks to make the songs their own.
Whether by using minute-long piano interludes before exploding into one of their songs, or employing an almost choir-like team of background vocalists to fill out some of the tracks, Sherwood takes the familiar and makes it sound fresh.
Also appearing will be the electro pop stylings of Reece and the emo-meets-pop-meets-rock sounds of Black Gold. Reece matches his semi-catchy tunes with thin vocals and falsettos reminiscent of JC Chasez and Justin Timberlake, but on the whole the material is forgettable and fairly bland. Black Gold’s songs on the other hand, have an odd appeal with their mixture of lilting, sometimes dreary vocals and rapid-fire delivery colliding just right with funky, jangly guitars, subtle drums and moody keyboards.
This is a solid concert lineup and the folks who have tickets to this concert should be in for a great time.
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