Futurebirds: Baba Yaga
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Athens, Georgia’s Futurebirds are the kind of rock band that sounds totally familiar but, upon closer listening, are tough to pin down. It’s not every day you hear a band that channels both Gram Parsons and Galaxie 500, but these songs sound hazy and carefree, but if hands are reaching for drinks here, they’ve got some very real dirt under their nails. The restless youth of “Virginia Slims” or “Serial Bowls” is where Futurebirds is at their strongest, channeling their tight sound and myriad influences into bright, charged rock songs. They can stretch out, too, on the spacier “Dig” or the overcast “Death Awaits”. These moments, though, come in a record that is 66-minutes long, and once the band starts stretching out, there’s no turning back. This wouldn’t be a problem—because the band does sound good throughout—if it wasn’t full of self-conscious twang (“American Cowboy”), slack atmospherics and melodramatic group vocals (“Felix Helix”) and mock-front-porch intimacy (“Womeo”). As Baba Yaga moves on, the band vacillates between self-indulgence and self-consciousness, sometimes unsure what they’re doing with so many big sounds, other times desperately trying to sound like the next big southern-rock band. What they should sound like is what they sound like early on here: themselves.