Tweak Bird‘s Undercover Crops EP (Volcom) is about as modern as you get without actually being from the future. Like the L.A.-by-way-of-Illinois brotherly two-piece’s last outing — a 2010 self-titled full-length debut — Undercover Crops pairs fuzzed-out baritone guitar and percussive crash with classic pop harmonies, resulting in a friendly maelstrom much bolstered by the production of Toshi Kasai (Big Business) and Dale Crover (Melvins). That duo also helmed the self-titled, and Tweak Bird has toured with both the Melvins and Big Business in the interim, among others.
Both Ashton and Caleb Bird provide vocals and on the 16-minute offering’s seven tracks, they bask in sunshiny harmonies, nodding at Revolver-era Beatles even as “Psychorain”‘s distorted heft feels born of early Mastodon. Their blend has been done to near-perfection for years by Torche, but Tweak Bird‘s harmonies are strong, their approach more jagged, and the 1:57 opener “Moans” — which is just the words “Everyone is paranoid” on loop over electronic beats — adds experimental edge, if also an offputting first impression. Cuts like “People” and “The Weight” are blissful, however, and for as stylized as Tweak Bird are, there’s an identity at play in the songs as well.
“Bunch o’ Brains” in particular reminds of Kylesa‘s churning crunch, but at just 16 minutes, it’s not like Undercover Crops really sticks around long enough to become redundant — unless, say, you put it on seven or eight times in a row to review it — and lines like, “So many people in the world/I don’t wanna be one” from “People” give a sense of individual personality. Being so short also helps keep the component songs away from pomposity, which they seem at times on the verge of falling into, as though if the tracks were any longer they’d realize how smart they are and totally lose their appeal. Fortunately it’s not an issue, and the band’s grindcore wristwatch serves them ably.
They are relatively young and relatively prolific, so there’s about zero chance this will be the last we hear from them — not that it can’t happen, but it’s hard to break up with your brother — and whatever familiarities Undercover Crops might bring to mind, I’d check out Tweak Bird‘s follow-up without reservation. They’ll be too hip for some and too poppy for others, but between the harmonies and the surprising amount of atmosphere they manage to pack into “The Weight” in just over two minutes, there’s more to their songwriting than the superficial and/or stylistic trappings might lead one to believe.
Tags: California, Los Angeles, Tweak Bird, Tweak Bird Undercover Crops, Undercover Crops, Volcom Entertainment