It can come across as either courageous or cowardly to still be riding the ebbing tide of the mid-2000s folk revival. On the one hand, wistful vocals paired with acoustic instrumentation is one of the most tried-and-true methods for writing a simple and beautiful song in history. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most easily botched these days. It’s a form which really pleads for authenticity and originality, and those two things come up missing far too often. Luckily, Bird Dog’s new EP, Misty Shrub (out today), has enough of both to be worth a listen.
If you’re on the lookout for a way to plug up the Fleet Foxes-sized hole in your heart, this may not be the place to look. Instead, this is where to go if you’re in the mood for some down-home songwriting unafraid of borrowing from straightforward indie pop to make a sound as catchy as it is informed by the old greats. It’s refreshing to hear synthesizers and effects-laden electric guitars on an EP like this instead of banjos and trumpets. You wouldn’t really picture this band dressing like they came out of a John Steinbeck novel. For that matter, they probably all have the latest iPhones, too.
There are just a few songs on here, but they make the kind of promises you’d hope for with any newer band. They’re getting their start on some really solid footing. The third track, “Red River,” is the only one that’s easy to drift away from, but that may well have been intentional. “Ocean and Sea,” “Dogs” and “The Desert Storm” all feature a melding of electric and acoustic instrumentation that’ll keep you front and center while their stories are told. In 2016, no folk band should be afraid of a pedal board, and Bird Dog certainly isn’t. It’s a nice, little EP to throw on when you’re looking to take your brain to some pensive territory, luckily unaccompanied by the big brimmed hats, tweedy vests and disingenuousness similar groups are privy to.