It’s strange how we seem to be caught in this constant push-and-pull of past, present, future. We’re looking ahead while living in the present, all while using our past to guide us and help us stand tall as we move forward. Yet, it’s understanding our influences that helps us grow and become better.
The Bye Bye Blackbirds, Bay Area by address, audible light by practice, is releasing their latest full length record August Lightning Complex (Double Potions Records) to a world desperately in need of something fresh and inviting. I’m hesitant to use the term, if only because of the implications it has to previous releases, yet August Lightning Complex feels like a rebirth for The Bye Bye Blackbirds.
Reaching deep into their roots, the ten-track follow up to Boxer at Rest continues a legacy framed by the band, Kelly Atikins, Jozef Becker, KC Bowman, Lenny Gill, Aaron Rubin, and Bradley Joel Skaught, that have attracted so many. As is with previous releases, each track of August Lightning Complex is a fresh direction held together only by the identifiable sense of songwriter rock BBB embodies. August calls on the talents of Matt Piucci, Doug Gillard, Bill Swan, Tom Griesser, and Joe Hayes to diversify the layers of sound that embody the feeling of warm afternoon sunlight slicing through the shadows on a road rushing under your wheels. The rolling sense of rock reminiscent of where airy 90s rock flourishes, which in itself was a resurgence of early rock days, flourishes in each hook and call-and-answer or in-the-round harmony. One could spend an hour just picking apart each track, let alone the entirety of this album. Not necessarily in complexity, but in how the culmination of each musician’s influences are evident on various levels. How each track carries a nod to the same in a riff or pace or vocal pairing. August Lightning Complex is a mesmerizing elevation from the monotony of reality while remaining rooted in honest musicianship. Case in point, the bold nine-minute-fifteen-second “Marching,” which strikingly holds down over half the “B-Side” (53%) of the LP, carves out a transfixing presence, elevating an already great album into another realm. August Lightning Complex is a calling back to anyone who previously spent time with The Bye Bye Blackbirds and has since set them aside. It deviates just enough from Boxer at Rest and Take Out the Poison before that. It is a reckoning for the band and without hesitation they best we’ve heard from The Bye Bye Blackbirds…yet.