steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Birdie Hilltop

"Surround the Birthday" CDR

Frigital Records

Genres: lo-fi, indie pop, bedroom pop

Ben Moore
6633 Greenfern Lane
Jacksonville, FL 32277

Jan 31 - Feb 6 2005

On Surround the Birthday we get a fine selection of offbeat lo-fi bedroom pop, falling somewhere in the Asaurus Records / We're Twins camp.  There is a bit more of a rock slant here (in comparison to many other lo-fi projects), but overall it seems to work well.  In a Smog and GBV vein, Birdie Hilltop chooses to embrace rather than loathe the lo-fi recording quality of this work.  This means the songs are a bit buffered by tape fuzz, concealing the imperfections and adding a sense of mystery to the overall sound.

The predominant style on Surround the is the dreary, slow song - "Looking For Your Hat" and "You Know the Dance," for example, are wandering, dark pop tunes that combine melody with a sort of creepy detachedness.  On the other hand, "That's My Girl" and "Watch Out" are more energetic and jumpy, with strong, climactic choruses - these are a bit of a break from the slow pace of the rest of the work, and they work well to express the diversity of moods that comprises the record.  Meanwhile, "Running Queens" is one of the disc's best assets - it has a positive-but-creepy feel to it that seems especially mysterious and detached.

Surround the Birthday is one of the most satisfying bedroom lo-fi records I've heard in my life, which is especially surprising given my infatuations with Smog and (more recently) This Bank Holiday.  Find this Birdie Hilltop release and cherish it; it's worth the attention of just about any underground pop fan.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 5 tracks, distributed by the band, released 2004]