We had the opportunity to get advance access to Birds and Arrows new album Arbitrary Magic for a review. We also had the opportunity to interview the husband and wife alt-rock duo. Check it all out below and stay tuned for a special surprise from Birds and Arrows and Alt Revue!
Advance Review - Arbitrary Magic
1. "Overloaded" - Fantastic opening track with driving guitar work and powerful vocals. Homemade harmonies here that are about as good as you'll find anywhere. If you know anything about me as a critic, I love me some homemade harmonies. Has a nice mix of root rocks to hit with good breaks that remind of classic rock a bit, that's where the harmonies hit. Great opener.
2 "Hand me Downs" - The harmonies are here again. This track has a roots rock twang to it that we're digging, it reminds us of a road song. Birds and Arrows again smartly take advantage of break periods in the melody to highlight their harmonization and even show off their vocal range quite a bit in this one.
3. "Adrift" - Opens with a slower melody, reminiscent of a Stevie Nicks song. It's very good as a ballad of sorts, it still has the roots twang that we appreciate in Birds and Arrows' sound. Another comp for this song would be 10,000 Maniacs.
4. "Stay Down" - Great dueling vocals on this one at points that ultimately come together. This is just a damned good rock and roll song. It's good a great melody, overdrive on the guitars, and fun vocals throughout that carry the movements of the song.
5. "All Souls Sell Out" - This song feels a bit more alt-rock/alt-country, which we can dig. Drum driven melodies, accompanied by distorted guitars, and vocals, this is Birds and Arrows bread and butter. This track is a bit slowed down to some of the other tracks on the album. We could see comps here to the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac on this track. This song also shows off Birds and Arrows ability to utilize breakdowns to build energy, it's great.
6. "The Distance that We Drive" - Andrea Connolly's vocals are put front in center in this one where at times she is borderline singing a capella. Connolly's voice is fierce and Pete Connolly's voice perfectly supports it. The song picks up toward the end as it sounds like there is some slide guitar being thrown and it just makes a good song even better.
7. "San Jacinto" (Peter Gabriel Cover) - We have to be honest here, we much prefer this version of this song in comparison to the original version. The guitar is great, the slow burn build is good as well. Harmonies are strong per usual. The epic conclusion of this song is bloody fantastic with tenacious guitars and vocal work from the Connolly's just giving it their all in honor of a musician they admire.
8. "Animatronic Heart" - An acoustic song to close out the album. This is a good way to do it, as Andrea Connolly's vocals have been on full display throughout this album, the only thing you don't get a chance to hear her do is sing with acoustic. Until here of course. She displays a beautiful falsetto here that pairs perfectly with the guitar. The organ in the background makes the song feel almost like hymnal. Then the guitar breaks in a bit more with a nice solo. This song, to me, says "thank you" for taking the journey as the musical choices all seem very joyful and celebratory.
Closing Thoughts: This is a band that you can tell has played together for a long time and they know each other well. They know their strengths and they make smart choices. This album is great, it's full of fun songs that remind me of the Southwest. It also has a couple slow songs you could see yourself just getting lost in. What a wonderful piece.