The Bowerbirds sit on the dividing line between the freak folk contingent led by Devendra Banhart
and Joanna Newsom
and the more straightforward sunshine pop of Lavender Diamond
: for all the self-conscious quirkiness of their lineup and instrumentation, there's an unfeigned positivity to their music that's refreshingly direct.
The roots of the Bowerbirds lie in the Raleigh, NC, indie rock trio Ticonderoga
, who were led by singer and guitarist Phil Moore. During the recording of the trio's second album, 2005's The Heilig Levine LP, Moore took a job tracking birds for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, which involved living in a cabin in the Carolina woods, far from civilization. Moore's girlfriend, a visual artist named Beth Tacular (born Beth Salmon) joined him in the cabin to work on her painting; at night, Moore began writing songs influenced by the couple's rustic, natural surroundings. When Ticonderoga
split up on tour supporting their second album, Moore and Tacular started their own band, the Bowerbirds, with Tacular teaching herself how to play the accordion and acquiring a marching band-style bass drum to keep rudimentary time. In this stripped-down incarnation, the Bowerbirds recorded a six-song EP, Danger at Sea, in 2006. Drafting producer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Paulson to flesh out the duo's sound, the Bowerbirds released their debut full-length, Hymns for a Dark Horse, on the new indie label Burly Time Records in 2007. The band's sophomore outing, Upper Air, arrived in 2009, followed by Clearing in 2012. ~ Stewart Mason, Rovi