The Whybirds

  Review by: Paul Kerr
  Record Label: The Little Red Recording Company, LRR005
  Star Rating:



Now trimmed down to a trio following the departure of their bass player, Taff Thatcher, at the end of last year, Bedford-based The Whybirds continue on A LITTLE BLOOD to deliver their brand of amped up Americana that owes precious little to country and much to stadium rock. With guitarist Ben Haswell switching to bass there’s a denser sound (tempting to describe them now as a power trio) and they’re moving on from the similarities to the likes of Tom Petty although vestiges remain. While all three band members still write in various permutations and they retain their signature harmony sound the quality control has slipped somewhat on this 14 song album which could have been tighter and punchier with a few of the songs lopped off.

They start off strongly enough with the bludgeoning rock of Cheating Heart which has some exciting key changes and promises to be a live favourite. It's followed by A Little Blood which has the anger of early Elvis Costello and features a fine tortured guitar solo before the band slam into The Crow’s Caw which sounds like an outtake from Blue Oyster Cult with its streamlined guitars and pummelling piano. By this point the listener might be wondering why The Whybirds are considered to be part of the UK’s movement and this is rammed home with the pulsating beat of the next song The Cure which is rousing but with its stadium chorus and mellotron is far removed from any of the classic bands that they have been compared with in the past. There are a brace of songs which delve into classic American roots rock with The Band Counts Four a fine loose-limbed number with an attractive country-rock chug, southern organ and a Georgia Satellites feel. Kick packs a powerful 12-string fuelled punch while Before I Let You Down does have a Tom Petty raunchiness about it. Unfortunately they are surrounded by several songs that lack originality in the lyrics and the delivery including Nobody Knows Me which is cliché after cliché. As I said earlier some judicious trimming of four or five of the less well-executed songs would have left this album trimmer and fighting fit.

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