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The Underground: The Crooked Mile – Birdengine

Welcome to The Underground (or Notes from the Underground if you’re a Dostoyevsky nerd), a weekly segment in which I examine the very best in unsigned, undiscovered and underground music. It’s my goal to highlight and hopefully promote talented artists who have yet to receive the attention they deserve. If you know of (or are!) a band/artist you think should be featured on The Underground, please give them a shout out in the comments below, or alternatively you can tweet me their info @AnOrangeFellow.

So, if I can make a confession; I think I am pretty sure I just prefer dark music. Now, obviously I love a jaunty, optimistic and upbeat tune and obviously I admit music like that found on The Crooked Mile isn’t exactly all-purpose, but I can’t help it! A cool, clandestine and dark sound is an easy way to at least gain my attention, and I think has an easier immediate resonance than a lot of really upbeat music. There are instant echoes and hints that its ideas come from somewhere. I must insist at this point that I am in fact not a brooding fourteen year-old.

Boy, is The Crooked Mile dark. While the album is never careless enough to become depressing or sad, it’s totally lacking in anything remotely upbeat-sounding. The tracks that make up The Crooked Mile give off a thick atmosphere of uncertainty, fear and mystery whilst at the same time brimming with personality and distinction. The first few second and initial lyrics of the opening track “Phantom Limb”, caught me off guard. It seemingly gave a silly introduction for a silly song, and the repeated use of “I don’t like the look of it” make it kind of unclear what the song is going for. It’s a desperate, frantic song that interrupts its pace for a goofy lyric. And that’s kind of a style on The Crooked Mile – grim songs populated by clandestine lyrics which come off as a bit funny, and for the life of me I can’t tell how intentional it is. It’s very (ahem) Lynchian, if I’m allowed to say that.

At the same time, it does always end up working, though in some cases better than others. The album is always coherent and nothing ever comes out of left-field enough to feel like a sucker punch. Rather, the moments that work to raise an eyebrow act more like interesting flares to keep your attention. It works because, through it all, The Crooked Mile totally is always a dark and serious album. Each song demands your respect and is engaging enough to earn it, and if you’re anything like me, captures your imagination in a wonderfully cool and morbid way.

It really is difficult to stop listening to The Crooked Mile once you’ve started. Haunting vocals, memorable melodies and distinct sounds are littered along The Crooked Mile‘s acoustic tracks. It truly speaks to Birdengine’s talent that he’s able to keep up such a simple, effective sound in such interesting ways throughout the album.

Listen to and purchase The Crooked Mile here.

Like Birdengine on Facebook here.

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