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The Wooden Birds: The Dark Side Of Quiet

In the world of indie-rock, quiet is still the new loud. The movement toward singer-songwriters who veer toward the acoustic and pensive, rather than the electric and rhythmic, just keeps getting stronger. The latest convert is Andrew Kenny of the Austin band American Analog Set. While his regular band appears to be on hiatus, Kenny has formed a new group, The Wooden Birds. American Analog Set's moody songs were never exactly punk in the first place, but Kenny has gone even mellower on The Wooden Birds' first album, Magnolia.

Or has he? "Sugar" embodies Kenny's revamped, stripped-down approach: muted, unplugged, pretty. It feels a bit like a folkish Yo La Tengo outtake, but in this case, the lulling mood is also disquieting. In typical indie-rock fashion, the lyrics are elliptical, yet the images — children alone in their rooms or in the basement, a couple on the verge of falling apart — paint a portrait of trouble lurking underneath. "Sugar" may be lovely in sound, but it's chilling in mood — the dark side of the new quiet, if not the high-divorce-rate America.

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David Browne
David Browne is a contributing editor of Rolling Stone and the author of Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth and Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, Spin and other outlets.