It seems like serendipity that the heavy-rockin’ twosome Tweak Bird would relocate to Los Angeles from Carbondale, Illinois, just as L.A.’s former heaviest-rockin’ twosome, Big Business, added a third member. And while the connection might seem incidental, there’s something deeper going on here — Tweak Bird’s debut EP, Reservations, was co-produced by Toshi Kasai, the newly minted guitarist of Big Business, and Dale Crover of the Melvins, who now count both original halves of Big Business in their ranks.
The affinity goes beyond the who-did-what. Tweak Bird’s brother-brother team of guitarist Caleb and drummer Ashton Bird rock fuzzy psych-jam nuggets with a healthy whiff of the Big Business house style: reverbalicious vocals and a distorted bottom-end thick enough to cover up its minimal membership. It’s a badass sound, equal parts blues-rock boogie and proto-metal steez. Tweak Bird doesn’t have the songs to give it wings, though. Much of Reservations feels like a creampuff without the filling, crusty on the outside and sprinkled in cute production tricks, but ultimately sorta hollow.
“Shivers” fondly remembers the time when Wolfmother-style retro-rock seemed fresh. But when one of the Bird brothers politely requests “Sing me a song that you know will blow my mind/ Sing me a song I’ll sing along,” we’re reminded that Wolfmother sucked in the lyrics department, too. “Spaceships” directly invokes Om’s mystical droning (“Fourteen spaceships out in the desert/ One symphonic drone/ Voices singin’ ‘bury the treasure’/ So I’m digging a hole”) and stops well short of nirvana with anemic vocals. Whispy faerie-vox don’t complement wicked wildebeest riffs so well, and they’re pitted against each other constantly on Reservations. The best parts of the EP come when the Bird brothers are jamming instrumental-style, as on the killer opening and coda to “Eternal Squaredance.”
Not to say that the faults of this EP make it a chore to sit through, especially for only 17 minutes. Chances are Caleb’s amp rumble shatters the resolve of all Tweak Bird naysayers in a live setting. Reservations reveals a band still figuring out its sound and not as powerful as it could be. Could a third member be in Tweak Bird’s future?