House of Badger: Death Birds

House of Badger describes themselves as a pop/electronica/experimental band, and as vague as that categorization is, it actually sounds about right. This is a weird band that writes weird songs and performs using weird instruments. However, they still have one foot (barely) in the pop realm; they’re the Talking Heads by way of Portland, Oregon. I mentioned the weird instruments, right? In addition to guitar and keyboards, singer Amanda Kelly also plays mandolin and Turkish saz (another plucked string instrument – thanks Wikipedia). Bass player Charlie Gallipeau rocks out old-school electronic sounds thanks to his Moog and theremin skills, while drummer Liam McNamara puts down his sticks on occasion to play the guiro as well as “the pans,” which I can only assume is a pan flute. How an unsigned indie-rock band can afford all these instruments is a mystery, but they certainly know how to use their unique instrumental capabilities to craft beautifully odd pop songs. “Vultures” and “Away” combine stark riffs with subtle ambient electronic effects to stunning effect, while the more upbeat “You Give Yourself Away” and “Into the Sun” crank up the rock and focus on the spectacular voice of Amanda Kelly, who has the ethereal quality of Siouxsie Sioux with the power of Amanda Palmer from the Dresden Dolls. Clocking in at only 30 minutes with seven songs, the only fault of Death Birds is that it leaves you wanting much more. (Self Released 2008)

House of Badger MySpace Page