Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds - A Man With The Passion Of Tennessee Williams (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds

A Man With The Passion Of Tennessee Williams (2011)

Red Scare

I'm not even sure what this is. Well okay, I know this is the new side project of Brendan Kelly of Lawrence Arms and I'm pretty sure it is music. I am just completely baffled as to how this collection of songs fits together as a single unit or what BK's aims are with this release.

The slow paced title track sounds like a modern mainstream radio cock rock song, think "Animal" by Against Me!. The vocal melody still sounds like something from the Brendan Kelly playbook but the neutered guitar that sweeps in and out and the lifeless drums are like nothing that have graced the man's canon before. The background "oooo"s and "ahhhh"s and the annoying chorus feel like mocking imitations of the dynamic vocal interplay and hookiness of BK's main act. I'm really not sure what he was thinking when he made this EP."I'd Rather Die Than Live Forever" sounds like an undercooked Lawrence Arms demo with more of a classic rock guitar lead. It isn't just the production value that makes it feel like a demo, it just isn't that memorable a song. While it isn't great, it at least it makes sense in the context of his own body of work and that is something I suppose. It doesn't really make sense within this release as a whole though. "Suffer The Children Come Unto Me" is the real saving grace here; it is a sunny acoustic number that really complement's BK's voice in comparison to how silly he sounds on "A Man With The Passion Of Tennessee Williams" and how tiny he sounds thanks to the production on "I'd Rather Die Than Live Forever".

After listening to this release several times I'm still unsure what Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds are trying to do and maybe that shouldn't bother anyone. There are plenty of artists out there that blend varying styles into a concerted effort and this fails at that almost completely. This could all be forgiven if, taken individually, the songs on A Man With The Passion Of Tennessee Williams were great, but they aren't. When the Wandering Birds do eventually release a full-length I hope it doesn't feel like a random mess of songs thrown together.