Why Bird City Rules by David Lander (2014)
In 2003, I was a frustrated history student at the University of Waterloo. All through high school, I had dreamed of going to university and finding a music community that would overwhelm me. Instead, I ended up at Waterloo. While I was able to see some of my favourite bands, it would often be to audiences of 20 or 30 on a good night.
When walking through the UC one day, I noticed a poster for a band I had heard so much about – the Barmitzvah Brothers. The show was, however, in Guelph. As the show approached, I decided to go, but, on the day of, school deadlines kept me from getting on that bus. Turns out the other bands were the Arcade Fire and Wolf Parade – but the Barmitzvah Brothers were why I wanted to go.
While I didn’t get on the bus that day, a year later I would. This time, however, it was because I was moving to Guelph. While the city’s university was a major reason for the move, it was Guelph’s strong music scene – a scene that had recently released the Constantines, Rockets Red Glare, Royal City and the Barmitzvahs to the world – that made me come.
The Barmitzvahs quickly become one of my favorite live bands. In addition to performing with that band, I would see front-woman Jenny Mitchell perform in numerous other projects I love over the next few years–The Burning Hell, The Oil Spills, Jenny Omnichord, The Glitter Bombs, etc–but, to me, it is with Bird City where her talents and power are fully realized.
Jenny Mitchell is one of those special musicians that comes along so infrequently and Bird City is her masterpiece. This music shows strength in vulnerability, beauty in the mundane and growth in loss. The songs of Bird City have roots in the old–folk traditions are present and many of the instruments she plays are surely from her Dad’s thrift store–but there is something incredibly current and immediate about this rich music.
This is music to move for.