Two Dark Birds Two Dark Birds

Two Dark Birds Two Dark Birds
Steve Koester has been in more bands than some of us have had hot dinners. From his most recent stints fronting Punchdrunk and breezy rockers Maplewood, he now assembles another band and some old friends — Charles Bissell of the Wrens, Joe Pisapia from Guster and fellow Maplewooder Craig Schoen — stop by to supply harmonies and strings for this debut. Meanwhile, childhood chum Galen Polivka (of the Hold Steady fame) co-writes album-closing lament "Ash & Sadness.” Much like Polivka’s unflinchingly uncool Brooklyn bar band, the product is unpretentious, without being too earnest. Songs swing by the darker side of town, but even when the Tom Petty-voiced Koester strays from autobiography (the album was supposedly inspired by a bleak place where the Minneapolis-born songwriter found himself a few years back), it’s refreshingly angst-free. This human approach is echoed by Koester and friends’ organic attitude to studio recording. So it’s fitting that the Costello-esque "Cut Down To Size” was chosen to soundtrack Laurie Collyer’s squirmingly honest portrayal of a downtrodden, cleaned-up drug addict in Sherrybaby. As in the movie, subtlety and realism reign supreme in Two Dark Birds’ timeless narratives of real life. (V-Fib)