Breakout Toronto Bands: Birds of Bellwoods
Breakout Toronto Bands features local artists that we think you should give a listen to.
Toronto four-piece folk ensemble Birds of Bellwoods seem to be incapable of doing wrong. With a mere four songs released on the band's SoundCloud page (each better than the last), the group has staked out a place amongst the city's most talented emerging songwriters, with no regard for due process.
WHO ARE THEY?
Longtime pals Joffe, Morningstar and Akiyama formed Birds this past summer as a trio, and soon added Blades after seeing his prowess on the banjo in the Summerworks production of The Life of Jude. Stevie tells me that the inspiration for their lovelorn tunes came after a particularly bad breakup, and although the pain does show in the songwriting, it shows well. The foursome took inspiration for their name from the youthful past time of enjoying Trinity Bellwoods Park in the warmer months, with liberal consumption of libations, and in their case, maybe even a couple of songs.
WHAT THEY SOUND LIKE
Although the name may sound populist in nature, their music is anything but contemporary mainstream folk. Birds of Bellwoods play strong indie melodies, built with folk instrumentation and peppered with classic Americana twang. Gang vocals, strutting bass lines and doting banjo flow effortlessly from verse to chorus, sort of like an Appalachian trail Band of Horses.
Although the band's existing online recordings are notably lo-fi - recorded in Akiyama's basement, all in one take, with one mic - the songs are solid because they stay within their means and are well executed. Joffe's Neil Young-esque vocal scratchings heighten the nostalgia factor on tracks like 'No Less Than All', while the duelling vocals in 'Train Song' give off an almost Barenaked Ladies vibe (at their best).
Birds of Bellwoods seem to soar even higher at more subdued paces ('Better Than Me', 'Felixstowe'), where they spike folk-pop motifs with R&B, slow-jam style anthems and beautifully crafted harmonies. Stevie tells me that they have loose plans to record a debut EP in the near future in-studio, perhaps keeping with the 'live take' feeling of their current songs.
SEE THEM / HEAR THEM
You can listen to Birds of Bellwoods on their SoundCloud page here, or catch them live at either of their upcoming residencies at Habits Gastropub on College, the next performance taking place February 22nd.