It’s unusual for a song that feels like some kind of folk rock to have this much percussive appeal, but “Little Bird Courage” is all about the drumming from the get-go–we pretty much don’t even hear anything else until almost 20 seconds in. And this is in fact how Old Canes front man and master mind Chris Crisci envisions his songs—he records the drum tracks first, and builds the songs up from there.
Everything ends up feeling rhythmic and propulsive as a result. With its vibrant but informal energy, spurred by relentlessly strummed acoustic guitars and accentuated by Crisci’s mixed-down vocals, “Little Bird Courage” has the vibe of a happier incarnation of Neutral Milk Hotel, an impression accentuated by the homely chorus of trumpets that appears halfway through, just when the whole thing seemed to be grinding to a halt. While it’s hard to pick up a lot of the lyrics, I get the impression of something transcendent and triumphant here; the title alone speaks volumes.
Chris Crisci is perhaps better known as a member of the Appleseed Cast, the Lawrence, Kansas-based band usually identified as being a “post-rock” pioneer; Old Canes has been a side project of his dating back to 2004. “Little Bird Courage” is from Feral Harmonic, the second Old Canes album, slated for release next week by Saddle Creek Records.