If you were to listen the intro to "The Ceiling," the song that's garnered some serious praise for Los Angeles-based The Wild Feathers, you might quickly - and prematurely - assume that the fresh-faced five-piece act is yet another entry into the Mumford-fueled folk-rock revival. Of course, after listening to the entirety of the tune, you'd know you were off-base and you'd slap your own hand for being so darn judgmental. Over the course of six minutes and twenty seconds "The Ceiling" goes from a romping electric folk jam to a galloping harmonic convergence before giving into a full-on bigger-than-the Atlantic Ocean chorus, complete with anthemic, ringing electric guitars.
While calling L.A. home now, the group has made it there by beginning in Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia, with some even spending some time in Nashville. Two of the band's members, Taylor Burns and Preston Wimberly were raised in Dallas, where they met at Richardson High School as the nineties came to an end. While they jammed together as early as the age of 16, they didn't function inside of a band together for a few years, when they were brought together in Los Angeles.
The group's self-titled debut, produced by Jay Joyce (Cage the Elephant, Wallflowers) is as diverse in its array of sounds as the band member's own musical interests are. There's a pensive, bluesy, piano-driven ballad in "How," and straight-forward rockers that never let-up on the peddle, such as "Backwoods Company" and "I'm Alive," and sun-soaked, harmony-enriched country rock numbers like "Tall Boots" to help round things out. Sometimes, a mixed-bag of styles on one album can create a form of audio-whiplash, but thanks to the members taking turns on singing lead and a solid bit of evident soul, the collection feels tighter than it likely should.
Burns, who left our neck of the woods in 2001 to chase his neon rainbow, says that with even multiple singers and songwriters in the group, things remain at an even keel when it comes time to decide what best for the group musically.
"I think it [the band's leadership] changes from song to song," he says. "Whoever has the idea usually steers the direction of the song. We all came from our own bands and write a lot. So we all want to have a say in how things sound." Though Burns was musically active as a teenager in Dallas, and had a father who loved the blues, he never really got into the trendy indie-rock or country bands that typically dot the scene here in town. In what is surely the dream of most fathers out there, the adolescent Burns was into what his dad was.
"To be honest, I don't remember too many local bands that I was into when I was coming up," he admits. "I did go to a lot of blues jams with my dad, though. He grew up in Oak Cliff and ran with a lot of the blues cats. We would go hang at Lota's Goat or Poor David's pub when I was like 14 or 15."
Indeed, his favorite all-time Dallas musicians are Stevie Ray Vaughan and Freddie King. There are touches of the blues in his group's album, but there's certainly room to grow into the sound as the band continues to gel. It's easy to imagine that the former Dallas-dweller will have plenty of chance to experience the blues in spades as The Wild Feathers are a promising young band with a lot of highway ahead of them.