By Lizz Kannenberg in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 4, 2008 5:43PM
Raleigh, NC's Bowerbirds have had some heavy expectations to live up to since the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle called the folk-pop trio one of his favorite new bands. Since then, they've brought interesting instrumentation, plaintive male-female vocal harmonies, and varying arrangements to cozy music rooms across America and signed to the freak-folk hotbed Dead Oceans label. Chicagoist caught Bowerbirds last August at Schubas, on tour in support of the critically acclaimed, self-released, Hymns For a Dark Horse EP. Chief songwriter Phil Moore weaved fantastical tales over an acoustic guitar and a hi-hat / tambourine contraption, while the supporting cast of Beth Tacular and Marc Paulson shifted easily between a marching band bass drum, violin, and accordion. The result was nothing short of mesmerizing, with Moore's tunes taking on a rambling dimension that would be just as at home in an Eastern European gypsy encampment as they’d be on some rogue, restless pirate ship.
We've also waxed ecstatic in the past about fellow Dead Oceans artist Phosphorescent. This guy is, to us, the epitome of the freak-folk subgenre and one of the most interesting acts traipsing through the indie rock club circuit. Part caustic, nasal-voiced preacher and part delicate troubadour, the Brooklyn-based songwriter is a true original in a genre than needs more white dudes with guitars like it needs a nuclear holocaust.
Phosphorescent and Bowerbirds play Schubas tonight, 9:00 p.m., 18+, $10
Photo of Bowerbirds courtesy of Dead Oceans.