A couple of weeks ago my phone rang somewhat excitedly. My learned, constantly gigging friend Nick was enthusing about a band called The Whybirds that he had seen supporting Jason & The Scorchers and The Quireboys over the water in England.
Eurorock was on the case and within days The Whybirds drummer Luke Tuchscherer very kindly sent me their second album Cold Blue Sky.Trusting my mate's judgement implicitly, I hurried towards the music room and hit play.
First track "Glow" did exactly what it says. Its soft, easy growing opening suddenly gave way to a dynamic guitar chord that made the hairs on my arms stand up and wave around like one of those sound sensitive plastic Christmas trees. I too had been introduced to The Whybirds, and I was glad that I had taken the advice.
Firstly, let me say that the album looks good with excellent artwork that perfectly captures the album's title, from bass player Taff Thatcher and Ron 'Look' O'Riley. It proved to be a fitting introduction to the quality that lay within.
I contacted Luke to describe the hair raising experience I just had. He knew what I meant saying, "There was a fine line in the studio trying to get that effect you described. Too loud and you break people's stereos, too quiet and it loses all momentum. Glad we got the balance right!"
Yep guys. that balance is exactly right. "We're really proud of this new album," says Luke justifiably. "As much as we love the first one, I think we have really found our sound now and this record is a far more accurate representation of how we play live as well as containing a more mature set of songs."
This is a band on fire and who have honed a sound that is rich with radio friendly melodic Americana that defies their Bedford, UK background. With shades of The Band, early Eagles or Poco, the scene setting lyrical style of Neil Young, and a splash of southern rock, they also allow for the occasional heavier touch of the likes of Pearl Jam.
Their first EP Tonight appeared in August 2007 with their self-titled debut album being released following March. Both were produced by The Quireboys producer Nick Mailing.
Subsequently, fellow producers of the calibre of George Drakoulias, who has worked with The Black Crowes, Tom Petty, and Michael Beinhorn of Soundgarden fame have been clambering aboard The Whybirds train. Cold Blue Sky is produced by the band alongside Tom Peters.
With their feet firmly set in the classic and southern rock camps, The Whybirds have gigged themselves to the point of deserved recognition. It seems that my phone wasn't the only one ringing, and UK Classic Rock magazine's Dave Ling was equally impressed following up a similar call to see the band play live in London.
He is quoted on the band's publicity enthusing, "The band has a strong sound that at its rockiest ventures into Southern Rock and Classic Rock territory, not to mention a very decent set of tunes." Thunder singer Danny Bowes is quoted as saying, "If there is any justice something good will happen for The Whybirds."
Elliot Mazer, producer of a stellar cast including the likes of Neil Young, Janis Joplin, and The Band, was also alerted to the foursome who are made up of the aforementioned Luke and Taff, on drums and bass respectively, and guitarists Ben Haswell and Dave Banks.
They are all singer songwriters who sing their own compositions across the thirteen tracks (fourteen if you count the CD only additional 'hidden' gem). When the band harmonise that vocal quality simply shines out. Having gone down a charismatic storm of late, they have proved themselves a very hard act to follow indeed.
Many of the tracks on Cold Blue Sky will be very familiar to those already in the know. Luke's beautiful country soaked ballad "Morva," Taff's driving "Mona Lisa," the delicious Eagles influenced radio chime of "Wild, Wild, Wind," and the equally impressive west coast atmosphere of "Jenny, Can We Take A Ride?" have been delighting their fast growing following for some time.
Rocking out with the swaggering "I Feel Loved," or easing it through the ringing "Morning Light" they can step down with equal effect for the more gentle tracks. These include "Something Beautiful (This Way Comes)," a track that is soaked in stylish Southern Rock panache.
The infectious hook within Ben's "Isabel" is guaranteed to have you singing embarrassingly in traffic jams. Dave's "Try A Little Harder" oozes the type of quality that you hope for from many far more established bands.
Meanwhile, Luke's "The Losing End" underlines all of the above with an expertly written song delivered with a well placed and totally justifiable swaggering confidence.
You just need to get those unlikely geographic references out of your head and tune in to the likes of "If You Stay With Me" a song oozing country rock class. Taff's gorgeous "Cold Blue Sky" brings the album to a memorable close. However, keep it running for the "hidden" bonus track (CD only) the heart- rending "I Just Want To See Your Face."
Buy this album and I'm sure you will also be excitedly phoning your mates to recommend a band that has already grabbed many a muso's attention. Get in now before everyone gets switched on and it's too late to claim them as yours.
With their refreshing brand of classic, country rock delivered with a fresh new twist there are absolutely no whys about it. The Whybirds are here and have successfully restored my sagging faith in the now.