Friday, July 26 2013
Baba Yaga, the second full-length album by Athens, GA's Futurebirds, marks a milestone in the continuous evolution of the eclectic ensemble. The 13-song album finds Futurebirds - Thomas Johnson, Carter King, Dennis Love, Brannen Miles, Daniel Womack, and Payton Bradford (who has since left the lineup to pursue a non-musical career path) - delivering an expansive yet intimate set that takes the band's trademark mix of earthily accessible songcraft and free-spirited experimentation into inspired new territory. Like the band that made it, Baba Yaga defies easy categorization, boasting a beguiling blend of warmly catchy tunes, stirringly evocative lyrics, distinctive sonic textures and unexpected melodic twists. The music is both intense and uplifting, capturing a good deal of the soaring, primal, sweat-soaked spirit of Futurebirds' live shows, which have already won the group a rabidly devoted fan base and a reputation as a singularly inspired, bravely unpredictable performing unit. Throughout Baba Yaga, Futurebirds' inventiveness and energy are suffused by a bittersweet, introspective melancholy that lends added emotional resonance to such compelling tunes as "Virginia Slims," "Serial Bowls," "Death Awaits" and "St. Summercamp," which showcase the band's indelible melodies, vivid lyrics and vibrant instrumental rapport. "This album definitely feels like a big milestone for us, no question," King says. "Just the fact that it's finally coming out feels like a milestone in itself," adds Johnson. Indeed, Baba Yaga's long journey to the public's ears is a story in itself, but the music more than justifies the album's long and often frustrating birth cycle. Early in their existence, Futurebirds' balance of homespun roots and forward-thinking exploration made the band a favorite in and around their bohemian hometown. The 2009 release of their self-titled debut EP was followed the next year by their first full-length debut album, Hampton's Lullaby. It was followed by the self-released EP Via Flamina, and the limited-edition 2011 Record Store Day release Live at Seney-Stovall Chapel, which sold out on the day of its release.