Soaring ahead of Hurricane Patricia’s torrential rains, Futurebirds passed through promoting Hotel Parties (Easy Sound), firing broadsides at the Crescent City with two sets at Euclid Records and One Eyed Jacks. This third studio album is a deeply personal, reflective composition. Its 11 songs evoke an introspective mood of van-window visions and kaleidoscopic reflections from the Athens-based psych-country indie-rock band.
The afternoon in-store show packed 30-40 locals between Euclid’s narrow aisles, a surprisingly large audience for out-of-town space cowboys and half-dozen songs. Customers stopped fingering through funk records to look and listen, and diners from Pizza Delicious next-door entered from the back, beers in hand, to source the tunes’ origin.
Brannen Miles’ bass pocket powers the engine for songs touched by influences from the Beach Boys’ psychedelic overdubs to the Drive-By Truckers’ Southern Gothic narrative songwriting in tunes by band songwriters Carter King, Daniel Womack and Thomas Johnson. In the most concise thematic album yet, often subdued vocals emerge as lyrical epistles of wandering, seeking, hoping: “Xmas Drags” discusses reincarnation set at a Christmas party while “Deadbeat Hits” parodies the rock-and-roller who waves his hair and parties professionally.
When Futurebirds took stage at One Eyed Jacks before midnight, King handed the microphone to a fan in flannel who climbed upstage to profess love for music and a beautiful blonde. With the calm strumming of guitar strings elevating his words, he proposed to her, pretty in the light. Two lace-wearing women with spider webs painted across their faces cheered from the bar, still haunting, partying after the Krewe of Boo parade. The floor crowd raised tallboys and lit camera phones to honor the young couple from Seattle.
“Now, a song about cheating,” King said and ripped into “Paranoia Letters,” the first track on Hotel Parties. It shares the line, “You ain’t holding nothing that you’re chasing all through the night,” with the album’s reprise, “Hard as You Like.” Relations swirl into violent dust clouds in “Rodeo” and are sacrificed completely in “Twentyseven.” Dennis Love’s pedal steel guitar leads into the ether and rocks our heads along while four guitars crescendo into storm-like, momentous harmony.
The audience sang along to old favorites like “Wild Heart,” a melodic rendition of the Stevie Nicks song, and Lundock’s heavy drum solo in “Death Awaits” empowered fans with room to dance. Reverb swirled following “Battle for Rome,” and Lundock corralled the noise by drumbeat and charged forward into the rhythmic flows of “[I’ll Fall Down] For You,” a ballad of door-shut love and outside hope.
Relentless touring built Futurebirds’ reputation for amplifying good vibes. Whether played live in a laid-back record store, or late and loud in the Vieux Carré, or at home on vinyl, the sound is crisp and refined. These songs show that Futurebirds share Kierkegaard’s “infinite passion” to commit to the unconditional, to harness the horizon and discover their place in it. After seven years on the road, Futurebirds have arrived in their sound and it lives in the country’s ether ahead of the weather.