Birthday Ass were formed as an improvisational outfit with no clear idea about the sound of the band. It’s freeform we guess. Richard loves Birthday Ass. Jamie is confused by Birthday Ass, he thinks he loves it but it makes his brain hurt and makes it difficult for him to speak properly. Tobin definitely does not like Birthday Ass, he tried it, he was at first open to the idea but eventually he decided he didn’t want anymore Birthday Ass. It’s a shame really because it’s a great thing. And we recommend Birthday Ass to everyone.
Secondly, there is more this week. First up is Jamie’s excellent glam rock bookend from Art d’Ecco and the “all so shouldn’t work” mixed bag of instruments that is Indialucia. Stop Light Observations prompt some intense studio discussion and later Richard butts in with an impromptu spin of theirs. We also trade off Manchester against Liverpool with some class music from each of these great cities. Plus, there’s news of Kelsey Bulkin and Made in Heights. Oh yeah, and there’s Cassandra Jenkins.
This week’s playlist
- Headrush Art d’Ecco
- 2Young Stop Light Observations
- Ozymandias Stop Light Observations
- Blah Birthday Ass
- West Coast Drama Kelsey Bulkin
- Year Of The Rooster Granfalloon
- Burn Little Triggers
- Raag ‘n’ Ole Indialucia
- Hard Drive Cassandra Jenkins
- That’s Entertainment Art d’Ecco
Birthday Ass, improvisation and silliness
In the supremely silly video for “Blah” by Birthday Ass, vocalist Priya Carlberg dons a tiara and delivers her solo. That is, a babbling stream of nonsense syllables, like a royal proclamation. While drummer Jonathan Starks plays along to the electronic drum break on a log. Carlberg pretends to read from a slowly-unfurling scroll. Then finally gathers it up and chucks it at the camera with both hands.
Birthday Ass formed at the New England Conservatory when Carlberg recruited Starks along with trumpeter Alex Quinn. Then followed alto saxophonist Raef Sengupta, guitarist Andres Abenante, and bassist Dan Raney. With their academic backgrounds in jazz and contemporary classical music, they all know full well how to read the music. But also when to throw the score out the window and improvise.
That, and they don’t mind taking a little Silly String to the face. The inherent wackiness has been part of the band since their 2018 debut record, Baby Syndrome. They only up the ante on the follow-up, Head of the Household, featuring more songs about buildings and food. Well, mostly food, but also death. Really, it’s about explosive vocal jazz and brassy, cacophonous indie rock. It’s tagged on Bandcamp as “skronky,” which is a word – look it up. You won’t be sorry.
Head of the Household is out now on Ramp Local. After the release, Carlberg spoke to Post-Trash about the rough draft key-smashes that wound up shaping the track list. And about the way the band’s live energy has shaped up over the years, and about that most classic of shapeable foodstuffs, Jell-O. You can read the full interview here. By Taylor Ruckle.
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