Brown truth: Bird Names sing it loud and proud


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Sings the Browns
(Upset the Rhythm)

By Kimberly Chun

Who likes to mix Captain Beefheart blues-skronk cacophony and ADD-driven, jazzy razzle-dazzle, with a strong dollop of Deerhoofian experimentation on the side? Chicago’s Bird Names, that’s who -- say their name. Rag-tag and rough-edged, this crazy quilt of a quartet swaps instruments live and in the studio -- and swaps musical ideas in and out just as confidently and punkily. It's as if the members of Bird Names all busily moonlight as carnies at madcap dadaist carnival, and their night job has merrily bled over into their music. Teetering guitar lines tumble against manic tambourine, fading into a dazed middle distance, on “Scandinavia,” and out-folk woodwinds peal against a backdrop of forest-critter chimes and child-like rhymes on “Natural Weeks,” both off the band’s fifth full-length, Sings the Browns. England’s Upset the Rhythm, a big supporter of Bay Area underground combos, got behind the group’s Brown album. And with such cock-eyed yet dulcet paeans to altered states as “Oh, Narcotopic Fantasy,” Bird Names manage to maintain a level of pleasing, if swampily documented, subversion.