Today’s folk-rock is typically made to sound like a product of the predigital age, but the success of bands such as Fleet Foxes, Mumford & Sons, and the Avett Brothers proves that the early 21st Century is a hospitable time for this music. And though the artists themselves tend to dress like it’s 1973 (or in the case of Mumford & Sons, 1933), they have eagerly turned to social media and other new technologies to promote themselves. North Carolina’s Bowerbirds promotes The Clearing with a beautifully filmed online video in which the band’s leaders, Phil Moore and Beth Tacular, talk about the rough times that inspired their new songs.
As they tell the story, they broke up for a while, but when Tacular was hospitalized with a mysterious and possibly life-threatening illness, they realized they really loved each other and decided to stick together. Is this a Fleetwood Mac–like backstory that helps tie the songs together? Is it just a touching little story? Or is it something more akin to people you barely know oversharing on Facebook?
The answer is, of course, a little bit of each of these. The North Carolina band’s music always sounds intimate, even when it’s bolstered by lush string arrangements. And so, in the song “Hush,” when Tacular sings, “I feel the tug between our hearts,” you feel like you’re being let in on a very private conversation. That said, it’s the louder and less sparse songs that make Bowerbirds stand out from the folk-rock pack. “Stitch the Hem” features piano, fuzz guitar, flamenco percussion, and gorgeous vocal harmonies. It’s folk-rock, but it also sounds like the 21st Century.
Dry the River also performs.
BOWERBIRDS: The Casbah, Sunday, April 8, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $10 advance; $12 door.