Spotlight \

Bowerbirds

Who? Since the 2006 release of the Danger at Sea EP, this North Carolina-based group has risen from obscurity to slightly-less obscurity, playing scattered shows around the East Coast, and appearing on North Carolina public radio. These indie rock folkies — made up of two disillusioned Iowans (Phil Moore and Mark Paulson) and a Raleigh-based artist (Beth Tacular) — have stayed true to their Raleigh roots, however, melding acoustic indie and southern rock into an accordion-infused debut album, Hymns for a Dark Horse (out this week via Burly Time).

What’s the Deal? Featuring Brad and Phil Cook on the upright bass and banjo, respectively, Hymns for a Dark Horse strikes a folksy balance between acoustic-heavy instrumentals, sing-a-long-able oohs and ahhs, and romantically melancholy lyrics. “In Our Talons” is the standout track, with its accordion-rich choruses and not-so-subtle message. While the instrumentals steal the show on “My Oldest Memory” — the perfect upbeat treat in a slow-moving album — the vocals steal center stage from the string parts in “Dark Horse,” a sweetly sad indie-folk trip. The album winds up with “Olive Hearts,” a tambourine-infused, harmonized ode to — what else? — the passage of time. As Bowerbirds croon to “the wives of drunks” and “the husbands who tagged along for good luck,” they seem a little overwhelmed and a little unsure of what exactly is going on. But they seem to think it’s going to be okay.

Fun Fact: Beth Tacular is a collected and published painter, and she and Phil Moore spent a summer working and painting in the swamps of South Carolina. EMMA LIND

Now Hear This:
Bowerbirds – “In Our Talons” DOWNLOAD MP3

On the Web:
bowerbirds.org
Bowerbirds at MySpace

Talk: Are you enticed by the mating rituals of Bowerbirds?

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