Sing, Bird of Prey - Crystal Embryo Review

  Photo by Brian Azar

Photo by Brian Azar

As Fall approaches, there is an exciting feeling of anticipation, and here at The Hook, the thing we've been most excited for is the new music - as the summer dwindles away, we're setting ourselves up with some new stuff.

Sing, Bird of Prey has graced us with our first listening opportunity.

Quickly becoming a Hook favorite - The Poconos/Lehigh Valley natives, Sing, Bird of Prey consists of David Nicholas (Guitar/Vocals) Dave Aon (Guitar), Cliff Albert (Drums/Vocals), Todd Ashenfalder (Bass), Tommy Heinick (Trombone/Trumpet/Keys/Vocals), and Andrew Valish (Percussion). The band has been amping up listeners for the 11-track debut album, Crystal Embryo, over the past few months by releasing a few singles from the album.

Of course, that's all well and good, but even better because Crystal Embryo was released on September 13th and has been pulling every heart string I have since.

Check out the tracklist below!

Crystal Embryo Tracklisting:
1. Wild Type
2. Microsatellite
3. Downstream
4. Painted Bones
5. Crystal Embryo
6. interlude
7. Next of Kin
8. Diamond Marrow
9. Grey Crescent
10. ------- 
11. Brittle Bones


I've been thinking a lot about what makes an album good - as I continue to do album reviews, and move into different, almost alien sub-genres, and how to be an objective voice for the album - what is good, what needs improvement. However, Crystal Embryo lives in a plane of time that is subverting reality - an impressive, ethereal, ghastly 11-track album. What could be more perfect for this period of change? 

Mercury's still in retrograde, it's been a Harvest Moon, and now we have Crystal Embryo.

Opening track "Wild Type" is a solid jumping off point. While I wasn't extremely impressed with it in comparison to the rest of the album, I think that it was able to allow a way in for listeners unfamiliar to Sing, Bird of Prey. Track 2, "Microsatellite" was one of the pre-released tracks, which makes it vital for listeners as it takes on the monicker of being the first that they get to experience. Of course, "Microsatellite" for myself doesn't always encapsulate what the album has to offer - but I do think that "Microsatellite" is the reason for being, wherein the rest of the album pulls something from it.

What the album has to offer is this: skillful arrangements to highlight each moving part in this music machine. Pulling from era music (we're thinking 60's & 70's), Sing, Bird of Prey is methodical in their guitar solos, the beat of the bass, and each cymbal crash. The lyricism is also something that I was incredibly impressed by - poetic, but charming and soothing. There is an excitement in music that combines all elements of the music they're creating, the tracks off of Crystal Embryo share this special technique that allows for them to embody the listener.

This album really started for me with "Downstream," the third track off of the 11 track album. David Nicholas' voice is sultry and haunting, a deep rasp put against lyrics like, "I stared right at the sun and that's why it's over and done." The certainty in the vocal performance only highlights the precision of the instrumental work behind it. 

One of my favorite tracks off of Crystal Embryo is "Painted Bones." A track that premiered right here on The Hook when it released. This track, for myself, encapsulates everything I want from Sing, Bird of Prey. A ballad in some aspects, and in others a highlight of that twanging guitar string. It's gooey and gross, but beautifully arranged and performed - I wish I could hear this song all the time in my head, it's calmness infectious. 

Check out the Soundcloud stream below to hear for yourself.

I could be here all day talking about the latter of the album, including tracks like "Interlude," a heavy-hitting, jittery 4:26 minutes of obscured language and shrieking guitar. Or maybe "Brittle Bones" the closing track of Crystal Embryo - with opening lyric "I open doors of solitude so you can go ahead and walk," and maybe that's what Sing, Bird of Prey is doing for their listeners.

This album really hit home for me, personally. 

Crystal Embryo is a unique and exciting debut LP for Sing, Bird of Prey. A precursor of things we can be looking forward to, possibly. It features tracks that are definitely doing something psychedelic, and tracks that seemingly aren't - but that's ok. Between the swirl of guitar and bass, the interjection of drums, and the breathy, but poignant vocals - this is a recipe for success. As we said earlier, this album was released on September 13th via Killer Tofu Records on tape and streaming. 

Rating: 9/10

For more on Sing, Bird of Prey or for listening, check out their social media links below. We implore you to check these guys out, buy their music, eat a donut near them. You know the drill.

Sing, Bird of Prey: Facebook // Bandcamp