Mimicking Birds: Earthly and Supernatural
Nate Lacy's virtuosic acoustic finger-picking wraps rhythm and rhymes around spiraling melodies
May 15 2012By Laurel Brauns
1859 Music Blogger
Mimicking Birds plays Mississippi Studios in Portland May 16 and you should be in the audience.
Mimicking Birds makes music that is at once earthly and supernatural. Concepts such as environmental destruction and biological infinity are channeled into songs that sound as if they are coming from distant atmospheres or other planets—with their own versions of sun, moon and stars.
At the center is Nate Lacy. His last release was in 2010 (too long ago!) with Glacial Pace Recordings. Tracks were “home recorded” at Isaac Brock’s house, with producers Brock and Clay Jones at the helm. Though a new album is yet to grace our ears, Lacy's warblings are worth hearing live tomorrow whether you are a seasoned listener or new recruit.
Lacy’s virtuosic acoustic finger-picking wraps rhythm and rhymes around spiraling melodies; his voice as sweet, sad and complex as Ray LaMontange’s, (sans the bluesy undertones) with hints of Dave Matthew's tremolo and Brock's phrasing. The effect is a songwriterly version of Modest Mouse’s The Moon and Antarctica—with playful distortion, meaty electric nuance and enough gadgetry at arms-length to launch these acoustic songs into an ethereal realm.
But what carries the record through is the intimate nature of Lacy’s vocals. He glides easily between mumbles, colloquial asides and melodic whispers. Sometimes, like an elusive silver coin, we even hear his shimmering tenor.
I’ve listened to this record hundreds of times, and it never gets boring because of the sonic and thematic complexity. Lacy appears to mull and process an intriguing number of ideas that feel at once as big as the universe and as small as a sprouting seed. He writes about all of this with poetic clarity, but never lets his words muddle up the song.
Lyrics from “Pixels,” for example, reference Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast. The song is about a beach, but also not about a beach at all:
You’re such a sweet life
Hard knowing what you’re going to be like
When your ocean conditions are so hard to predict
All I know is that you’ll be there,
I know you’ll always be there and different every time
Indian and Short Sands
Constantly moving between your coves and headlands
Protecting this section of sea from the wind
Along with me and my good friends
I know they’ll always be there and the same all the time
Sorry what we’re doing
Carelessly wasting and so rapidly using
And in doing so bruising your soul
Burning a hole with coal
I swear its not me, I’m too small
See Mimicking Birds at Mississippi Studios in Portland on May 16 with opening act, When the Broken Bow. Get tickets here