Back to the Futurebirds

Score one for the columnist.

I suggest to Brannen Miles of the Futurebirds that a good and proper description of his band's material might be "Dream Cowboy Music," fully expecting him to pooh-pooh the label as just one more feeble journalistic effort to pigeonhole the sonic textures created by his eclectic outfit.

Instead, he lights up. "I've never heard somebody use those exact words," Miles says. "I like to hear that."

Well, all right then. The Futurebirds, from Athens, play the Jinx Thursday night (Nov. 21). Like Band of Horses, My Morning Jacket and a handful of other currently-cool bands, they play a sort of Crazy Horse country-infused rock 'n' roll drenched — absolutely drenched — in reverb.

Which gives the music a sort of dreamy, ghostly quality, just a boot-scoot to the left of real psychedelia, albeit with spooky fiddle harmonics and ethereal pedal steel wail.

The Futurebirds' second full-length album is the recently released Baba Yaga (it's the name of a fearsome forest creature from Slavic mythology). Like the band's earlier stuff, it draws from a rich atmospheric palette. They recorded 25 songs and whittled the number down to the 13 that appear on the record.

Miles, who's one of the band's five singer/songwriters (he's also the bass player), grew up in Savannah and in fact graduated from Savannah Country Day School.

From here, he went to Orlando, Florida, to study audio engineering at Full Sail University, a school that caters to the entertainment industry. In the mid-2000s he relocated to Athens, where he got a job as a studio engineer. Miles worked on recent records by Drive-By Truckers, R.E.M. and others.

Which makes him one of the few Athens musicians who has little or no connection to the University of Georgia.

Others in the band are Carter King, Dennis Love, Daniel Womack, Payton Bradford and Thomas Johnson. Miles and Johnson, another aspiring engineer, met at the recording studio after Miles arrived in Athens.

It all came together in 2008. "Carter and Daniel had started their own band going," Miles says. "Angel Band, I think it was called. And Thomas and I had started our own band, named the Interns.

"The same drummer was in both bands, Payton. Carter joined us, then Thomas joined their band. Both bands started mixing and matching until each had the same members, pretty much."

And you know, there's a sound technical reason Futurebirds records sound like Dream Cowboy Music.

"The studio that Thomas and I started working in, and that we record all our albums in, they have these two great plate reverb machines," Miles explains.

"I guess we just fell in love with working there with them, and when we started doing our own stuff, we just weren't afraid to turn 'em up a little extra."

The Nov. 21 Jinx show, which will also feature New Madrid and Savannah's own surf-echo kings Triathalon, will also serve as the official announcement event for the 2014 Savannah Stopover (those dates, since you asked, are March 6-8).

That's right, Stopover founder Kayne Lanahan will be there to spill the names of the bands coming in March. Tickets for Stopover will also be on sale (cash only).

Some links for the industrious:

About The Author

Bill DeYoung

Bill DeYoung was Connect's Arts & Entertainment Editor from May 2009 to August 2014.
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