Big Hassle Media
Birds of Bellwoods are growing up.
The Toronto-based group still rock the lyrical storytelling, tight musicianship, and gorgeous harmonies they explored on their debut EP, but in their new tracks, Stephen Joffe (lead vocals/ mandolin), Adrian Morningstar (guitar/vocals), Chris Blades (banjo/ electric guitar/vocals), and Kintaro Akiyama (upright bass/vocals) have managed to develop a hybrid sound that remains dynamic and accessible while defying classification.
“We sound like a folk band in a fist fight,” says Adrian, and it fits. Their evolving sound is certainly still based in folk, but there’s an added edge that is markedly more vibrant and mature. Chris maintains that it’s all part of a natural progression: “I think it will always be grounded in the kitchen party band sound that it originated as, but we’re doing weirder and more interesting things.”
The boys came together in the aftermath of a rough breakup. A heartbroken Stephen found refuge on Adrian’s couch where, along with Kintaro and Chris, they turned a period of emotional reflection into a series of beautifully layered songs. They’ve remained immensely collaborative, finishing each other’s sentences and tossing around inside jokes. “Being in a band is like having four girlfriends,” jokes Kintaro. “Sometimes it’s magic and sometimes it’s madness.” Their authentic chemistry feeds effortlessly into their live performances at iconic venues and festivals across the country.
Birds’ lyrics are deeply earnest—sometimes heartbreakingly so—as each song weaves together poignant stories of love, loss, and learning that comes with getting older. Their self-released EP “The Fifth” took home a 2016 Independent Music Award and an International Songwriting Competition prize, among other accolades. The songs on their upcoming full-length album are even more revealing, unabashedly exploring feelings of regret and the pain of letting go; but there’s also a distinctly hopeful quality pervading each track. “Melatonin,” for example, is about a failing relationship, but also about finding the magic in difficult experiences. The song’s anthemic nature inspires buoyancy, especially as it builds to an explosive, foot-stomping chorus. There’s beauty in sadness, it seems to say, and the band isn’t intimidated by it. “I want people to be less afraid to be afraid,” says Stephen. “I want to stand on stage and tell them that I am lonely and scared, but that’s okay. I want them to say ‘me too,’ and then we can all dance about it.”