From Nathan Roberts & The New Birds

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Singer-songwriter Nathan Roberts started his solo project in 2011 by releasing the Beautiful Universe EP. The following year, Joel Trzcinski (drums) and Daniel Trzcinski (keys, guitar) were added, which led to the formation of Nathan Roberts & The New Birds. The music continued to evolve from indie folk-rock to a more eclectic and full-bodied American rock – all without sacrifice of quality or accessibility.

On November 5th, 2013 the band released their debut album. The following is a review by Ryan A. Bunch of that describes the new album.

Lots of good bands pop up around Toledo, but really, it’s only every once in a while that one comes along seemingly poised for wider commercial success. Nathan Roberts & The New Birds’ new record sees this longtime local singer-songwriter and his group well-positioned for just such a chance. Though Roberts himself is no stranger to the local scene, this self-titled effort is the first proper release from The New Birds, and it radiates with new energy and new life, but with the spirit of an old soul and classic rock behind the wheel.

The album’s 10 songs clock-in at just over 30 minutes in length and compose a snapshot of a band finding itself and delivering the perfect bite of what it has to offer. Overall, the record is clean, bright, and pretty, but with a sharpness of heartfelt soul and hard-edged rock lurking behind the all-original compositions. From the snarling opening riff of “In Stereo” to the dreamy sing-along vocals and well-layered horns backing “Dead on Arrival,” it’s clear that Roberts and his bandmates, Joel Trzcinski (drums) and Daniel Trzcinski (keys, guitar), have paid attention to a wide range of songwriting and grabbing composition styles that create hits, as near every track on the record sounds radio ready.

There are clear influences and/or comparisons to be made, most obvious probably are the heavy hands of Wilco, Ryan Adams, and My Morning Jacket. But too, there are touches of ‘70s style blue-eyed soul mixed with crisp rock ballads a la ‘70s masters like Tom Petty and Neil Young. None of this is a bad thing. Throughout the emotional wandering of these 10 brief tracks, the record remains familiar, intimate, and engaging. Roberts’ sincere delivery and contemplative wanton-love lyrics and his smooth tone toil nicely atop a delicate mixture of stripped-down backing instrumentation and rousing, almost floral arrangements of keys, horns, and sonic indulgences (“Step into the Light,” “Heaven Knows”) that can suddenly give way to hard-rocking boogie-woogie grooves and cutting riffs (“Mind Reader,” “Please Don’t”). In short, there’s not a bad song on the album whether you’re familiar with the band or not.

A lot of local music – in any city – sounds “local.” This eponymous release by Nathan Roberts & The New Birds skirts that. In fact, in composition, production, and mix, it sounds like it could have come from almost anywhere but here. While the album might not be the most boundary-pushing or inventive of records – which is what the Pitchfork’s of the world will have you believe all new bands should be, and which is a mentality that ultimately lends itself to a newfangled brand of 'milktoastness' anyhow – it achieves what you should actually expect from a new band making a clean break: It’s a damn good record.