Summon the Birds

Summon The BirdsSummon the Birds flash out the shadows of the sky, spinning tales of fallen kings, dissected criminals, Arctic exploration, cloud riding and London rain. The canvas weaving these disparate threads together is the ornate musical setting in which the song-stories become an unflinching and expanding whole. Imagine latter-day Talk Talk picking the locks to Spoon’s basement as The Drones circle, restless, looking for the pink pill…

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Discography

 

Blood Love


February 2018

The seeds of Blood Love were sown back in 2009, with song sketches massaged into shape in the band’s rehearsal room. Labyrinthine pieces like ‘The Anatomy Lesson’ – based on the famous painting by Rembrandt – nine-minute opus ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ and instrumental tracks ‘Tactile Hallucination’ and ‘Cloud Cars’ realise the reach of the band’s ambition. Bookended by singles ‘Funeral for a King’ and ‘London Tap Water’, this six-track epic is testament to how powerful music can become when story and song interweave.

 

Funeral for a King (Single)


September 2017

‘Funeral for a King’ is the new single by Melbourne band Summon the Birds, taken from their forthcoming second album, Blood Love, recorded by Tim Johnston (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Dandy Warhols, The Drones).

Like Zaphod Beeblebrox animated by Edgar Allan Poe, Summon the Birds have drunk the London tap water and are now poised for flight. Their second album Blood Love will see release on Hidden Shoal in late 2017 – imagine latter-day Talk Talk picking the locks to Spoon’s basement as The Drones circle, restless, looking for the pink pill…

 

London Tap Water(Single)


August 2017

‘London Tap Water’ is the first single taken from Summon the Birds’ forthcoming second album, Blood Love, recorded by Tim Johnston (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Dandy Warhols, The Drones).

Like Zaphod Beeblebrox animated by Edgar Allan Poe, Summon the Birds have drunk the London tap water, sent it along the spice roads of sound (Tim Johnston/John Ruberto) and are now poised for live flight. The five-piece live incarnation – including the most perfect organ sound heard since the Fall of Pompeii – are launching ‘London Tap Water’ at Melbourne venue the Yarra Hotel Abbotsford on Friday 11th August.

Digger (Single)


August 2013

It’s the picture of the diggers by the foot of the Sphinx in Egypt in 1915 that gives the clue: the digger, once so low a foot soldier in the allied camps, now a rallying cry of national pride. This standalone track, originally intended for inclusion on second album Blood Love, reimagines the guttural slang and plays fast with the disparate meanings. Alternately dismissive and yearning, it’s a brutal, folk-operatic cry for legitimacy and love. Recorded in the mud heaps of Park Orchards, with western spaghetti on the stove top and analogue gear in a heap, ‘Digger’ is the last Summon the Birds track featuring the late, great Peter Woodlands on bass, mixing console and backing vocals.

48


November 2012

The hexagram for the number 48 is The Well – the site of the town may change, but the well stays the same. The album 48 was caught on tape at Head Gap studios in 2007 by Brent Punshon during a meticulous five-day session, spearheaded by the late Peter Woodlands. The overdubbing and mixing process took place over the next five years, interrupted by volcanoes, divorce, recast hexagrams and band reshuffles. 48 was launched in 2012 almost exactly seven years after it began in blood, in a runic ceremony in Warrandyte.

Biography

Summon the Birds began in 2007, when singer-songwriter Jonathan Shaw and bassist/producer Peter Woodlands kicked up an idea for a record called 48, based on the iChing. Kris Arrowsmith joined on drums, with guitarist Tim Clarke seduced into the fray after the dissolution of instrumental shoegaze band Bury the Sound. 48 saw release in 2012, launched alongside Melbourne space-rock compatriots All India Radio, closely followed by single ‘Digger’ in 2013.

The seeds of second album Blood Love were sown back in 2009, with song sketches dreamt up by Shaw massaged into shape in the band’s Hurstbridge rehearsal room. These new songs had a lyrical intensity that lent itself to a more dynamic musical setting, inspired by Clarke’s measured guitar playing, tracing itself like gold wire over the regal patter of Arrowsmith’s drums and Woodlands’ bass runs. Labyrinthine pieces like ‘The Anatomy Lesson’ – based on the famous painting by Rembrandt – nine-minute opus ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ and instrumental tracks ‘Tactile Hallucination’ and ‘Cloud Cars’ began to realise the reach of the band’s ambition.

In 2014, bassist Drew Corby replaced original member Peter Woodlands, and the recording of Blood Love began in earnest, bolstered by Paul Spurling on keyboards, Marlene Samson on backing vocals, and Adrian Perger on horns. Producer and engineer Tim Johnston (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Dandy Warhols, The Drones) oversaw the sessions and lent his golden ears to the mixes, and the album was mastered by John Ruberto (Courtney Barnett, The Drones, Electric Mary).

Blood Love is dedicated to the late Peter Woodlands, who died far too soon, but whose song rings on in the vault of the endless sky.

News

Reviews

  • Summon the Birds “Blood Love” Reviewed at [sic] Magazine

    ” Fables of the Reconstruction

    Melbourne’s Summon The Birds evoke a rich tapestry of musical tradition while still managing to sound modern and original. Their bio cites influences from progressive rock, post-rock and, well… rock. Having featured preceding single, ‘London Tap Water’ here we can attest to that. Our review drew comparisons with some of the most titanic acts past and present, namely Radiohead and Pink Floyd. It’s a good marker but it isn’t quite the whole story.

    ‘Funeral For a King’, which kicks off proceedings here, is the first time I‘ve really understood the band’s Spoon references (I get it now guys.) It’s a terrific track and great choice to open the record. There’s something almost cinematic about ‘Funeral For a King’. I think it’s that nagging bassline in conjunction with the sombre brass. Me, I conjure a fur-coated Pacino scurrying through Brooklyn alleyways. Of course this is a symptom of how my own mind works rather than the actual story behind the track. However frontman Jonathan Shaw is in a far better position to expand upon his work. Shaw is Summon The Birds’ raconteur and, as mentioned in previous reviews, his subject matter is more tale than song-lyric. Picture a bawdy troubadour propping up a tavern fireplace, recounting preposterous stories to a rapt audience of gullible drunkards. He is the quintessential unreliable narrator and his eccentric vignettes possibly won’t be to everybody’s tastes (if you’re looking for boy meets girl, try elsewhere), but they do give Summon The Birds their USP. As does Shaw’s waspish croak of a delivery. In the single review I may have suggested Shaw was-affecting some kind of Brit(pop) mockney, citing singers as diverse as Brett Anderson and Anthony Newley. Across Blood Love he’s far more varied. At times, Shaw brings to mind John Bramwell (I Am Kloot), which is never a bad thing. Other times (‘Journey To The Center Of The Earth’) I detect a top-note of Russell Brand (which is).

    Joking.

    Progressive is the clearest and most obvious tent peg for Summon The Birds, both musically and because of the eclectic subject matter. Yet prog doesn’t pin them down. Aside from the singles, ‘The Anatomy Lesson’ is probably the most Floyd-like piece here. For the rest, Blood Love takes us genre-hopping and decade-spanning. ‘Cloud Cars’, which comes towards the end of the album, is quite lovely. The opening refrain puts me in mind of Go Betweens, but the piece itself heads off in a gentle Talk Talk direction. It’s probably the keys that do it, but I have to say the guitars on ‘Cloud Cars’ are really beautiful. The aforementioned and afore-reviewed (if that’s a word – it is now) ‘London Tap Water’ abruptly closes the album out. I think Blood Love’s slender running time (33 mins) feels even less so because of the variety displayed. They essentially leave us wanting more.

    Which is a good thing.”

    [sic] Magazine

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  • Summon the Birds “Blood Love” Reviewed at Emerging Indie Bands

    “The Australian alt-rock band Summon The Birds were introduced last year. Earlier in the month they released the six track LP Blood Love, which is available on bandcamp. A set of songs in to which the listener digs their spoon in sumptuous dumplings of warming music that makes life better for its very presence.

    The material is drawn from that well of the creativity of early ’70s progressive psychedelia which they approach from the direction of that materials folk inspired derivative, to create songs that hold a calm, yet multilayered and slightly trippy, texturing without throwing the mind in to a full on psychotropic trip, rather stretching out on scattered cushions while gazing at a ceiling aglow with spinning purple hued crystal refractions of light.

    The just under eight and a half minutes antepenultimate track is Journey To The Centre Of The Earth being my pick of the release.”

    Emerging Indie Bands

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  • Summon the Birds “Blood Love” Reviewed at Half-Life Music

    “Summon the Birds liken their sound to “Talk Talk picking the locks to Spoon’s basement as The Drones circle”. But let’s declutter. Summon the Birds are a four-piece band from Melbourne, Australia. Blood Love is their second full-length release. They offer up a slightly woozy, somewhat proggy, little bit folky sound. But let’s declutter. Summon the Birds are on the wonderful Hidden Shoal label. They’re not afraid to give a song room to breathe, to let the lyrics tell a story, to create an epic sound. But let’s declutter. Summon the Birds’ new album is out on Friday. It’s worth checking out. Let’s go clutter.”

    Half-Life Music

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  • Summon the Birds ‘London Tap Water’ Reviewed at [sic] Magazine

    “Hidden Shoal recordings from Perth, Australia are exactly what they say on the tin. Namely an ‘out of sight’ treasure trove of diverse, eclectic music. They’ve released products from the likes of Hotels, Arc Lab, Slow Dancing Society and My Majestic Star. I have enjoyed working with them for years and long may it continue as far as I am concerned.

    In Summon The Birds, the Perth imprint has a fine exponent of Brit-infused prog rock. ‘London Tap Water’ is the forerunner to the bands second album Blood Love and Radiohead are a clear marker here. One can easily imagine ‘London Tap Water’ adjacent to something like ‘Exit Music (for a film)’ from the Oxford bands landmark OK Computer phase. Yet Summon The Birds are not mere wannabes. They create their own rich universe with narrative character and personality in abundance. Front man Jonathan Shaw (see solo album) is at the heart of this with his Anthony Newley inflections (for those of you not of the same vintage, Newley is how we used to describe early Bowie) Any given Summon The Birds song becomes more tale than track. Shaw intones his eccentric fables while the band provides the ‘fireside’.

    As ‘London Tap Water’ climaxes into peals of Gilmour -esque guitars we are also reminded of the great Pink Floyd. And though the Floyd had many notable singers they never, at least to my knowledge, had Damon Albarn and Brett Anderson combined, channeling John Lydon on a ballsy version of ‘Roll Out The Barrel’.

    From the sunny side of the world to the Dark Side Of The Moon via…. the East End. It may only be tap water but its Lundon, innit!”

    - [sic] Magazine

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Lyrics

No lyrics list as yet.

Artist Photos

 

 

Music Videos

 

Licensing

Summon The Birds’ music is  available for licensing (master & sync cleared) through Hidden Shoal. Please contact us with some basic details about your project and the track(s) you wish to use and we’ll be sure to get back to you straight away.

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