By Jono Coote
August 12, 2013
I first discovered the Night Birds a couple of years ago, in a sweaty basement in the Hyde Park area of Leeds. Part of a string of shows in the same basement, most of those have joined together in memory as a hazy cloud of barking trucks and warm cider – but that one stands out in particular as the perfect combination of skating, drinking, crew rolling deep and some spot on blistering surf-tinged hardcore that led to me buying a copy of Fresh Kills Vol. 1 and listening to it on repeat any time I skated anywhere for the next month.
Move forward a couple years and the band has renewed its assault on the music world with the one-two punch of the Maimed for the Masses EP, closely followed by the full length Born to Die in Suburbia – just as you’d stopped reeling from the first, BLAM, those guitars hit your ears and you’re down again. It’s an underrated skill to so perfectly channel your influences and still come across as sounding fresh and not just like a punk covers band playing down the local bar as the opening act. The Night Birds are probably destined to be compared to any early ‘80s West Coast hardcore act you care to mention, but let’s face it, that’s no bad thing – especially when the songs are original and good enough to grab hold and make you forget everything that’s come before. Perhaps it’s the change in scene from the sunny West to the colder, damper climes of New Jersey, but there’s a heaviness to their sound that many of those ’80s bands didn’t have and which lends itself perfectly to the twin themes of suburban apathy and bad horror movies that the album explores.
Born to Die… starts in back where the Maimed for the Masses EP left off, immediately grabbing you by the throat with the instrumental surf attack of ‘Escape from New York’. From then on it’s a whirlwind of ear melting drum shredding, squealing guitars, B movie evocations and some commendably throat ripping vocals. The band sound tighter and more streamlined than on previous releases, clearly having spent a lot of time honing their sound to great effect. Songs like ‘No Spoilers’, the instrumental race of ‘Silver Alert’ blending into the raging ‘Pretty Poison’ and the catchy-as-herpes title track can’t fail to get you amped, whether carving full speed round a bowl or trying to talk yourself into going to work through last night’s hangover. The only speed check is for the standout ‘Nazi Gold’, its oppressive guitar chug coming across as the band’s own ‘Richard Hung Himself’ (shit, and I was doing so well at not making lazy comparisons). Another high point is the title track from Maimed for the Masses, an ode to wrestler Mick Foley that muses at high velocity about destroying yourself doing something you love. This is something anyone who plays full time in a punk band will know only too well, and from this record it’s clear that the Night Birds have put everything they’ve got into this release. Go find a copy, and see how long you last before you want that dagger logo inked on your flesh…this is your new favourite band.
Born To Die In Suburbia is available now from iTunes (here).