Album #14: Futurebirds – Teamwork

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Athens, Georgia, USA
  • Label: VL4L
  • Best Track: Killing Ground

After a fairly slow first two weeks of the year for exciting new music, last week’s album releases have kept me busier than expected – probably enough so to keep me going until this Friday without dipping into anything older.

This time, we have the fourth album from a band I’ve never heard before in Futurebirds. So this is country rock, and I’m pretty out of my comfort zone. On listening, the closest acts I can think of to compare them to are Neil Young and Calexico, but that’s probably more a reflection of my ignorance than what they actually sound like.

In any case, Futurebirds sound good. Teamwork is an atmospheric album drenched in reverb, leading to those clangy, resonant guitar songs that literally add depth. At the same time it’s idyllic and summery, so not ideally suited to a January walk through Ellesmere Port, but let’s make the most of it.

The infectious choruses, especially on ‘Crazy Boys’, really hit you on this album, and while it’s not a downbeat record, some of its best moments are when it takes a lonely and melancholy turn, such as on the last two tracks ‘I’m Killing You’ and ‘Waiting on a Call’.

The track I really can’t get enough of though is ‘Killing Ground’. This is a band on form – earnest, yet effortless, and revelling in nostalgia.

I’m surprised how much I like this record. In fact I’d go as far as to say it’s probably my favourite album of 2020 so far, for what that’s worth on January 20th. I wouldn’t say I care massively for the many of the lyrics or Americana-style vocals, but the songs are wonderfully crafted. Somehow, everything just feels in the right place, whether it’s a guitar noodling in the background, a distant harmonising sigh or even the odd blast of brass.

One of my main hopes of this project is that it pushes me into listening to stuff I wouldn’t normally bother with, and leads me to a newfound appreciation for genres I previously dismissed. Today, I’ve learned that country doesn’t have to be crap.

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