Album Reviews

Birds Of Maya: Valdez – “we need more bands like them”

Philadelphia’s cult shredders return with their first new music in eight years.

After an eight year absence, Philadelphia’s Birds Of Maya have brushed off the cobwebs and returned with something that produces the kind of force that could kick COVID to the kerb.

It’s not as if Birds Of Maya were twiddling their thumbs for the last eight years, as such. Guitarist, Mike Polizze, and drummer, Ben Leaphart, in particular have been shredding as Purling Hiss for many years now, producing the kind of tunes that may have (perhaps in another universe) had them on a similar trajectory to The War On Drugs.

While Polizze’s well-received debut solo album was released last year, he’s back in the saddle alongside Leaphart and vocalist/bassist, Jason Killinger.

The result is Valdez, a raging racket of unadulterated wig-outs.

It’s punk after scraping up the ocean floor remnants left by the classic rock staples. Unlike all the trouser-bulging exhibitionism showcased by the ‘Gods’ of yesteryear, Birds Of Maya’s attitude is no bullshit – just rock up and riff out. I mean, the band’s songs consists of titles such as Porch Dude and Ready to Howl, for heaven’s sake!

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Where albums like Ready to Howl and Celebration were coated with a thick, lo-fi glaze, Valdez emerges from those rugged foundations with a bit more burliness.

Birds Of Maya - Valdez

It all starts with High Fly, which is just that. The kind of frenzied rock tune that would awaken the biggest stoner from their half-crumpled mess on the couch.

BFIOU is an almighty dust-up between Blue Oyster Cult and Black Sabbath while Busted Room sounds like Bob Dylan pushing all the other singers of Deep Purple out of the way for a slice of the action.

That’s the beauty about a band who doesn’t actually give a fuck. Not dipping into the world of algorithm indie landfill and online ‘presence’, Birds Of Maya wear their influences completely on their sleeves and it shows. It’s real life (that’s how you get a jarring jam like Recessinater).

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More than ever, we need more bands like them, and if the above ditties didn’t hammer home that particular point, then the pure blues-rock swing of Front St. and the closing Stooges-inspired Please Come In should. The latter, a seismic clamour that could crack asphalt.

Valdez is the kind of album for older blokes trawling message boards still howling about Led Zeppelin and this month’s issue of Mojo. The same assemblage of cynics claiming the best music has already been written. Music’s answer to flat-earthers, basically.

It’s never too late, though, and while there are already a few aboard the Birds Of Maya train, there’s always room for more. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but either way, it doesn’t change the fact that Valdez is a mighty fine return.

Valdez if out now via Drag City. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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