Artist: Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds (Facebook, Bad Sandwich Chronicles, Last.fm, Wikipedia)
Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds full-length debut I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever is a fascinating record that is incredibly hard to place because it is a bit all over the map. Now by all over-the-map, I don’t mean that one song is a hardcore song and then the next is a hip hop song. This is the record of someone spreading his wings and taping into elements of country, rock, soul, and power pop and mixing it with his punk rock background. The person spreading his wings is The Lawrence Arms’ Brendan Kelly. Sadly, I have somehow completely missed out on The Lawrence Arms so other than Kelly’s work in Slapstick I have no real point of reference to compare I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever to. In a way I’m glad that I don’t because I have been able to go into this record with zero expectations and walk away knowing that this is a great piece of rock ‘n’ roll. And I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever is a great record (so much so that I am going to make it a point to track down Kelly’s other bands to add to my collection). One of my favorite moments on the record is the Rick Springfield-esque power pop gem “
East St. Louis”
(if fact I’d love to hear Kelly and the Wandering Birds do a cover of Springfield’s
classic “I’ve Done Everything for You”). The record closes with another standout, the haunting,
sparse, and dark “The Thud and The Echo,”
but in all honesty, there isn’t a bad moment on this record. All 12 songs stand out as strong, catchy, and
often dark numbers that are all quite good.
What I really love about this record is that it doesn’t have one single
sound; I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever is
impossible to pigeon-hole and that is it’s greatest strength.