New Music | Friday Roll Out: The Messenger Birds, Candy Coffins, Weird Nightmare

Weird Nightmare is back! Well, actually it’s never left but you get it. Weird Nightmare is the solo project of Metz guitarist and singer Alex Edkins and just coming off his 7” single “I Think You Know” / “Bird With An Iron Head” in September and the full-length self-titled debut in May, we now have the new single “So Far Gone.” This odd little pop gem comes wrapped in washes of guitar & harmonies with loads of melody. Its pop/punk aesthetic is beautifully filtered throughout the song as Edkins continues to show a different side to his songwriting.


When is a band not actually a band? It’s a loaded question but although the press release reads that The Messenger Birds isn’t a band but just two guys, well, they make music and that in of itself constitutes a “band.” But I digress from the point before even starting, as I’m sure you’re not reading this for any of the nonsense just spewed. Regardless, the duo of The Messenger Birds has just released its new offering, Tragic Comedy (Grandview Music) and it isn’t what we were expecting. Or is it?

The Messenger Birds honestly isn’t what one might imagine, of whom we still don’t know their names, but create music that’s as thick as the New York air in the summertime, filled with harmonies, pummeling drums, ambient background tones, and guitar bursts that make up for creative songwriting. Listening to “If No One Is Going To Look My Way,” you might be ready to relegate the band as a hard rock renegade, but then the enthusiastic punk “Do As You Please” takes over the sense. It becomes difficult to imagine this two-man outfit piecing together such a racket, but they pull it off. The eerie “Alone In The Word” reverberates with effects as guitar notes are softly played before other instruments make their way in alongside a monotone vocal delivery. You can feel the sadness and desperation of the last couple of years within the track itself, getting lost in bliss.  

It’s the band careening into its own pop bliss of “Midwestern Mirage” though that can’t be avoided. The fuzzy edges of the guitars are entrancing, as it occasionally plays with dynamic shifts. It rages, but nothing is forced as the song takes on a life, all of its own. It’s the emotional title track that walks carefully on eggshells, slowly building around a thunderous rhythm while floating carefree all around. It’s a cryptic beauty that defies definition.

Tragic Comedy is loud, raucous, soft, and subtle, sometimes it’s all included within the same song. That just might be the trick The Messenger Birds play on listeners, which isn’t an easy task to accomplish.

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When it comes to break-up songs, there are moments when one can feel the translation of vehemence into music or the full effect of melancholy etched on every note. Those emotions would have listeners reeling, well, at least this one anyway. But coming into Columbia, South Carolina’s Candy Coffins, it seems like we get a little more of that within the band’s sophomore self-released effort Once Do It With Feeling. The band travels confidently in the shadows and fringes of post-punk which suits the collection of songs, moving through a conceptualized vision, that chronicles a relational dissolution. In layman’s terms: it’s a breakup album, ready to lift eyebrows with “WTF?” moments.

We can get straight to it though, eschewing any unnecessary fluff. The album strikes first and strikes hard with the opening “Seaside Girls” where vocalist/guitarist James Lathern’s raspy delivery offers sultry lyricism, descriptive on sandy beaches while the rest of the band (guitarist Tom Alewine, bassist Alex Mabrey, drummer Jonathan Bradley, and keyboardist Justin Purdy) are explosive with its hypnotic melodies. It’s literally the perfect storm, embracing beautiful melodies with sonic explosions. It’s easy to fall in love with the track and listen to it over and over. But then you’d miss the rest of the album. “The Falling Man” seems to begin the descent, as Lathern pleads for help as the band obliges with a Gallup-like bassline that allows the melancholia to thrive as a wall of guitar sheen is splattered across. The melancholic drive fills much of the album like on “Every Day A Fresh Atrocity,” this time led with a bottom end that would make Peter Hook proud although Justin Purdy’s droning keys, while underscored here, are an essential part of the song. Yeah, it works. Really well!

Is it wrong to take sides? Of course, it is but Lathern makes a good case for leaving this tumultuous relationship that seemed doomed from the start. That seems to be the feeling throughout “Abject” while “Tangled Up In Teacups” details the desperation for distance and the solace once it’s arrived. The cynicism is obvious when he sings “I miss the laugh…but not really.” But it’s the softer “Another Kiss” that shows the band’s dexterity. Still present Lathern’s poignant lyrics although it’s coupled with the song’s balladesque delivery that crescendos through blissful sonic melodies. There’s never a lull throughout the album; each song delivers as well as the previous.

It’s easy to fall in with Once Do It With Feeling because, while the band may stick to a formula here, no two songs ever sound the same, it’s able to convey a sound that seems to be theirs alone. There’s humor, sadness, and an obvious sense of relief throughout, and at the same time, the band is able to convey it through its music that speaks more than volumes.

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