White Death To Alan Power is highly commendable in the sense that it holds straight and true to its purity of musical intent.
Third Uncle Records are akin to probably the most prominent and legendary “amateur ethos” UK record label still in business…Liverpool’s Probe Plus Records, the cradle of the legend that is Half Man Half Biscuit. Visit the Third Uncle website and it swiftly becomes obvious that a DIY ethos permeates their whole musical manifesto. But what creativity! Offering limited edition lathe-cut vinyl! And Bands called “Queen of Jeans” and “All the Saints” – offering music which is refreshingly disenfranchised from the mainstream bile, ploughing their own furrow in a field of musical blandness and mediocrity.
So come forth Year of Birds, with their album White Death To Alan Power, which is – interesting. And this isn’t a negative euphemism – it really is, and in the challenging sense. Recorded for a reportedly £30, the album has many musical and artistic touchstones, like a superior word-search puzzle for the musical connoisseur. Year Of Birds are now comprised of Oli Heffernan (King Champion Sounds, Shrug, Detective Instinct, Houseplants, Ivan The Tolerable) on Bass, Vocals, Guitar and Organ; Danielle Johnson (King Champion Sounds, Witch Hands) on Drums, and Paul Coates on Guitar. It might also be considered their first “proper” album after a string of split LPs, 45s, tapes and CDs that have been released in various ways.
The album opens with Western Splits (After Lear) which to these ears is a pleasing mash-up of The Cramps and The Fall. Indeed, the latter’s influence pervades this collection, as if you are hosting a party and you know Mark E Smith is holding court in your kitchen – you are always aware. Cower in the Clover shifts the production values a notch northwards, adding a drum machine, a stream of consciousness reminiscent to Blur’s Parklife, but scorched with Northern observational bitterness. Peace Listener – what a great title – diatribes some great lyrics, “the nuclear threat of the length of the colour of hair”, Nigel from Half Man Half Biscuit would surely have been chuffed to pen that line. Fat could be the musical adjacent to some kind of art installation, perhaps a film of Sumo wrestlers strolling down a Japanese street ordering street food, in full ceremonial garb; our narrator absurdly concludes by knocking over a glass of water. Plaster Disaster musically sounds like Joy Division circa Dead Souls, but without Curtis’ anguished callings, replaced instead by a Smithsonian sneering detachment.
White Death To Alan Power is highly commendable in the sense that it holds straight and true to its purity of musical intent. It has a brutalistic nature, in the Le Corbusier architectural sense, and perfectly reflects the UK Brexit zeitgeist. Sometimes hidden truths, wrapped in challenging environments, make the most satisfying of discoveries. Year of Birds offer as much. They are the frayed stitch in the otherwise alleged perfect musical tapestry, which doesn’t detract, but by its very inherent realism, enhances. Recommended.