By ROB DUGUAY When it comes to putting out new music, 2020 has rewritten the handbook. The long-lost art of putting out a record and playing shows to sell it at the merch table is currently nonexistent thanks to COVID-19, and you can forget the idea of
When it comes to putting out new music, 2020 has rewritten the handbook. The long-lost art of putting out a record and playing shows to sell it at the merch table is currently nonexistent thanks to COVID-19, and you can forget the idea of heading out on tour.
It’s time for improvisation, and numerous acts have been doing different things to market and promote their fresh sounds. This includes having accompanying food for merch, doing a virtual release show or donating the sales to charities that are providing assistance to ones who are the most vulnerable during these crazy times.
What about putting out two EPs in the same month? That’s what Providence garage punks Song Birds did in September while capturing the feeling of this messed up situation we’re all in.
The first EP, titled “The World’s Gone to [Expletive] Hell,” came out on Sept. 18, while the second EP, aptly titled “TwentyTwenty,” was released during the tail end of the month on Sept. 30.
Guitarist and co-vocalist Damian Puerini, drummer and co-vocalist Matt Trap, guitarist Glen Quinette and organist Zack Brines bring intense amplification and brooding angst to both records. Jared Mann also handled the production of “TwentyTwenty” from his Distorted Forest Recording Studio in Smithfield, which he did a pristine job at.
“Working with Jared was great,” says Puerini, who is also a Cranston native. “First off, he’s just a really nice person who is fun to be around. Second, he has a good ear and was able to nail down the kind of sound we wanted pretty quickly. When it came to tracking, he let us do our thing and get as much of it done live as possible, which is important to a band like ours because a lot of what makes it click is us playing in a room together and taking visual cues. Finally, we are very, very loud and he was able to deal with that, which I’m sure is not an easy task. The decision behind two EPs was based solely on us wanting a 7-inch record to release.”
He adds: “We all go back a bit and a 7-inch record was just what you did when you played punk, garage, hardcore or whatever underground stuff you were into, so we were still in that mindset. We were able to record 10 songs and five was the most we could fit on a 7-inch, which is a lot because our songs are fairly short so it just seemed to work out. We definitely wouldn’t be against an LP with all the songs we did but we would need someone to pay for that and the offers to do that were not exactly pouring in. The vision behind the music as a whole is pretty obvious if you’ve spent any time with the four of us … we are very different people as far as our tastes, styles and personalities go. Playing together seemed much easier than it should have been based on our differences.”
Those differences come from Puerini also being in the alternative rock act Tall Teenagers and from his time being in the rockabilly band The Haymakers during the early to mid-2000s. Trap and Brines were both part of the punk trio Party Pigs in the 2010s and Brines also played piano with the Boston underground rock legends Kings of Nuthin’ during the same time period as Puerini’s old band. Quinette also spent time playing with Boston rockers The Digs during the 2010s, and everyone has an affinity for electrifying music. Each of their ideas formed the rhythmic sound that Song Birds have and it’s evident in both EPs.
“When we started a couple years ago, all of us were pretty excited that our various ideas for what the band could sound like were being realized at the same time,” Puerini says. “We could be loud and raw and aggressive but also experimental and melodic and spaced out. Everyone gets to do their thing, all four of us write songs and sing. The songwriting process just kind of happens, someone plays something then the others play something and then there’s a song. Everyone can really play well and there is a lot of confidence in our bandmates, it makes it very easy and fun.”
Highlights on “The World’s Gone to [Expletive] Hell” include “Oh Noes,” “Soft Boss” and “Cashmere.” There’s a lot of rawness being exhibited from the tracks, with them being recorded at the Hathaway Building in Providence and Puerini’s Tall Teenagers’ bandmate Chelsea Paulhus assisting in the process.
“TwentyTwenty” features its own batch of rippers, including “Shallow Glass,” “Fever Dream” and “Time Pulls The Trigger.” There’s a noticeable change in audio quality due to Mann’s skills on production, only adding to the brilliance of the band’s music.
To stream, purchase and rock out to both EPs, visit Song Birds’ Bandcamp page at www.songbirdspvd.bandcamp.com.