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Birds of Chicago / Press

“Artists to Watch... Birds of Chicago's stripped down guitar-and-banjo Kickstarter-funded debut album is showing that there is whimsy to be found in the intensely personal, and magic hiding in even the thickest shadows.”

“even given the buzz over Hogan's recent "I Like to Keep Myself in Pain" album, the year's biggest local roots surprise comes courtesy of JT Nero (nee Jeremy Lindsay) and Allison Russell. Teaming as Birds of Chicago, they project organic gospel, hillbilly, folk and soul elements that bridge traditional and modern approaches.”

“Dubbed “two of the most compelling new voices in Americana roots music” by their hometown Chicago Sun-Times, JT Nero and Allison Russell first crossed paths when their respective bands — JT and the Clouds (from Chicago) and Vancouver’s Po’ Girl — began collaborating. In 2011, Nero’s Mountains/Forests became the first full release to showcase the harmonious energy the two singers’ voices created together. Out all of that collaboration came the Birds of Chicago collective, which ranges in size from just Nero and Russell (the core) to a full-on band of rotating musicians (including members of the Clouds and Athens, Ohio’s Michelle McGrath). Birds of Chicago has been capitalizing on the international acclaim of Mountains/Forests, touring frequently and gearing up for the much-anticipated debut full-length album under the Birds banner (due this summer). ”

“5 stars -the Birds of Chicago album is an extraordinary start to 2013 and will certainly be in my final Top 10 at the end of the year”

“New music like this doesn't come along often enough...Stylistically, the Birds careen from folk to soul to pop to country in a blend of intelligence and influences so immersed in originality that they are consumed by the music. It just sounds like Birds of Chicago, which is a very good thing.”

“When Russell sings that "the years floated by like cotton seeds and now the long-legged two-stepper turns 73," she sends the words out and onto a breeze, along with those cotton seeds. It's a wonderful way to capture how old age can feel if you've gotten the most out of it. The song, "Galaxy Ballroom," feels like a place that you'd like to ascend to when your earthly waltz has come to an end. Nero and Russell make rainy and sunny days feel exactly the same - like treasures.”

"a record sweet as birdsong"

“hailed as one of the year's best roots debuts by the Chicago Sun-Times and L.A. Times, and exudes the kind of radiant harmonies and easy acoustic familiarity — spliced with clarinet, accordion and ukulele — that are difficult to fake.”

“Trampoline kicks off the album in fine style with both singers swapping verses as the band kick up a funky dust and the vocals coalesce in the chorus. Russell’s Before She Goes is an eulogy for a departed one and introduces the Humboldt crows, perhaps the eponymous birds of Chicago who watch and wait. The crows reappear on the song Humboldt Crows which again appears to be an eulogy this time for Chicago itself. Nero does wax poetically in his writing with the best example, lyrically and performance wise to be heard in the amazing Moonglow Tapeworm that is part savvy street poetry, part surrealism. However the best is saved to last with the closing The Wide Sea where both singers unite with Nero’s cracked delivery perfectly balanced by Russell’s purity as the band surges with the unstoppable strength of a tide coming in.”

“4.5/5 stars Birds Of Chicago excels through the sheer variety and complexity of its sound...There are shades of The Band recognisable throughout an album which has clever and quirky songwriting, as on JT's Moonglow Tapeworm. I particularly liked the mournful Old Calcutta, which includes the lines: 'Then someone comes along and says that Pluto's not a planet, oh I wish with all my heart he had not said it.' All 12 tracks are high quality including the brass-infused finale The Wide Sea. These birds can soar.”

“The pairing of Lindsay's soulful, idiosyncratic, and rich vocal style with Russell's beautiful, supple range, and flexibility is a natural partnership...”

“there's much to admire in this latest offering from Chicago-based duo JT Nero and Allison Russell. After honing their songwriting skills in a variety of previous incarnations, the pairing boasts a highly-assured, ultra-melodic style that recalls Paul Simon and a folkier Buckingham/Nicks in equal measure.”

“JT Nero, Allison Russell find the perfect music fit..Listen to their voices separately and you might not think they go together; listen to them joined and it’s a bewitching mix. Match that with fine, nuanced songwriting and you have two of the most compelling new voices in American roots music. ”

“the blend of the musicians’ voices is truly something to be celebrated at length - Perhaps the most obvious phrase that comes to mind when hearing JT and Allison’s special chemistry is “relaxed passion”, their mellow and assured performing style equally suiting the intimate (almost McGarrigle-esque) waltzery of Galaxy Ballroom, the reflective Old Calcutta and the swaying balladry of The Wide Sea via the more easygoing funk stylings of Trampoline and Come Morning. But they can also bring an even more uplifting, upbeat vibe to their delivery, as on the lightly cajun-inflected Sugar Dumplin’, the countryish Flying Dreams and the carnival-soufflé of Sans Souci. But, great though the voices’ combined harmonies are, I’d still single out as album highlights those tracks where Allison takes the vocal lead, most especially the sublime banjo-flecked evocation of home territory Humboldt Crows and Allison’s own Before She Goes.”

“For decades, the Earl of Old Town venue nurtured natives like Steve Goodman and John Prine. The just-expanded Old Town School of Folk Music remains one of the country's leading educational, cultural and performance institutions. Meanwhile, contemporaries such as jack-of-all-trades Jon Langford, country troubadour Robbie Fulks and siren Kelly Hogan continue to add to Chicago's rich history. Still, even given the buzz over Hogan's recent "I Like to Keep Myself in Pain" album, the year's biggest local roots surprise comes courtesy of JT Nero (nee Jeremy Lindsay) and Allison Russell..Birds of Chicago anchored by Nero's tender, heart-on-a-sleeve timbre and Russell's dreamy chirping”

"Two of Alt-Country’s finest voices collaborate on a heavenly debut album"

“The album closes as it began, their voices meshing in a duet with arguably the finest track, The Wide Sea, a beautifully sad ballad that seems to be about a mental breakdown with its line ‘please come back to yourself come back to me’, opening with the pulse of strummed acoustic guitar before piano, horns and handclaps gradually build the emotional mood, evoking the most moving moments of Ben E King, the Everlys and Springsteen. Long may they fly.”

“The sound feels familiar, but resistant to pigeonholing – somehow joyful and haunted at the same time...The album’s first two singles, ‘Trampoline’ and ‘Cannonball’, highlight the band’s effortless gumboing of rock ‘n’ roll, soul and old country, while Nero’s lyrics place him in line with American impressionists like Paul Simon and Robert Hunter.”

“The debut album features 12 beguiling songs, 10 penned by Nero and two by Russell. Though definitely in the rootsy folk category, it’s got a pop sensibility that should appeal to music fans way outside any limiting or genre defining boundaries...City after city they’re picking up new fans along the way. By the time they get to Ireland in April it’s a certainty that the Birds’ star will have risen considerably.”

“Birds of Chicago have created an album that is sure to have Americana and folk fans craving for more. The good news is; the band loves to travel.”

“10. Finally, in a climate saturated with bands vying for listener attention; why should the good old folks at home listen to you guys? Listening to our music has been shown in studies, to improve circulation, reduce anxiety and encourage weight loss. In some cases it has also been known to cause priapysms – erections lasting longer than 3 hours. If this occurs, people should immediately consult their doctors. Ahhh you know questions like this are tough! Serious answer — we treat every show like a serious thing – it’s our kind of agnostic gospel… there’s an exchange between human beings possible through song that we don’t really get anywhere else in life… that we don’t take lightly. Always trying to catch that feeling… ”

“Compact discs in jewel cases might soon be obsolete, but some of the latest gatefold albums add up to real works of art. Take, for instance, Birds Of Chicago, the first joint release by Allison Russell, of the Po' Girl band, and JT Nero (pen-name Jeremy Lindsay), of JT and the Clouds. British fans should know what to expect from this pair – who combined on JT's recent Mountains/Forests – and Birds of Chicago deliver in full measure. Supported by the likes of Chris Merrill on bass and Mikey August on drums, their music blends Nero's rootsy takes on country idioms with Russell's soulful vocals. Two evocative Russell songs supplement ten pieces by JT, and the classy booklet has all the lyrics.Birds of Chicago will tour to Nottingham's The Maze on April 14.”

“4/5 stars This Kickstarter-funded album shows what good taste crowd-funders have. Birds of Chicago is a collective based around JT Nero (aka Jeremy Lindsay) and Allison Russell. Nero leads the Clouds, a rising roots band, while Russell is one of the voices in the much-loved Canadian band Po’Girl. Separately they have their own strengths; together here they create something striking. The bulk of the 12 country/folk/soul tracks are written by Lindsay, and he displays a spry imagination combined with a sense of a rural idyll. But it is Russell’s warm, clear, soulful voice, frequently joined by Lindsay’s looser but equally affecting pipes, that make songs such as the heady opener Trampoline, the gorgeous drama of Come Morning or the chunky intimacy of Moonglow Tapeworm such a pleasure.”

“Birds of Chicago is a good collection of summer and winter songs that are accompanied by able instrumentation (check out the clarinet on “Old Calcutta”), and as such is a great listen. We can do nothing less but recommend you pick up a copy or catch a live show of the Birds of Chicago. ”

“gorgeous acoustic ache provided so sweetly by Birds of Chicago...”

“it’s apparent a lot of thought, development and love has being given to this album and the hard-work in creating it has produced an album that rewards the listener, it sounds both effortless and whimsical as it meanders its way sweetly through the twelve original compositions – highly recommended.”