In the wake of the 2005 demise of vaunted indie band Ticonderoga, guitarist/vocalist Phil Moore and keyboardist/vocalist Mark Paulson decided to maintain their working relationship. They invited accordionist/vocalist Beth Tacular to complete their resurrection as a band. It was Tacular who dubbed the newly minted unit Bowerbirds, after an Australian species known for the male’s mating strategy of building beautiful and elaborate nests.
The trio relocated to the Raleigh, N.C., scene, honed their Freak Folk/Acousticana hybrid of Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsome, Clem Snide and Van Dyke Parks and spawned a pair of well-received releases, 2006’s Danger at Sea EP and 2007’s Hymns for a Dark Horse. After the Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle raved about them on his Web site, Bloomington’s Dead Oceans signed Bowerbirds, reissued Hymns with bonus tracks and set the band on an exhaustive touring schedule both in North America and abroad, including a support slot for No.
Bowerbirds’ sophomore full-length, Upper Air, was released last July to enthusiastic reviews and resulted in another long touring cycle, but much has happened in the interim. Paulson has largely stepped away from Bowerbirds, leaving Moore and Tacular to do the heavy creative lifting (the pair became personally involved shortly after forming the band), although he continues to help them flesh out their live sound on occasion. Bowerbirds’ road unit continues to shift according to need and availability — Paulson and Megafaun’s Brad Cook have signed on for intermittent tours while drummer Matt Damron has become an important constant since last summer.
Most ephemeral music drifts on the edge of consciousness, but Bowerbirds’ dreamy soundscapes electrify and excite consciousness. It’s old-time music with a freshly forged edge.
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