Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

cover art

Tweak Bird

Undercover Crops EP

(Volcom Entertainment; US: 9 Oct 2012; UK: 8 Oct 2012)

Far Out Crops

The latest EP from Illinois brothers Caleb and Ashton Bird might seem to be the year’s biggest put on or joke. A droning introductory track called “Moans” intones “everyone is paranoid” over and over through a synthesized voice speaking over squelchy keyboards throughout much of its minute and 57-second runtime. With that, you have to wonder what is indeed going on here. However, Tweak Bird’s modus operandi is more or less unveiled by the time you get to its second track: to pummel the listener with bluesy heavy rock riffs for the remaining six songs that are as repetitive and rudimentary as the lyrics to their very first song. It kind of actually works, in a perverse way, when the band has an interesting hook, and “Pigeons” is an interesting experiment in that it is the only song here that graces the three minute mark, making it the sole thing that feels like a “song” as opposed to a Guided By Voices-esque fragment. However, with most of the songs clocking in at two minutes or less, a lot of this seems rather off the cuff. It’s kind of fun in a dumb way, but that’s about all that Undercover Crops EP shows that these angry birds have to offer.

The thing that makes the Undercover Crops EP rather hard to peg down critically is that the lyrics are usually repeated over and over in the most base form, as though the group has nothing at all to talk about. Or maybe they’re just too high on their own supply of mind damaging blues-based psych rock to really care. So, again, you walk away from this album wondering if the whole thing is just a joke, especially when you get to “Bunch ‘O Brains” which consists solely of the lines “He’s got a bunch ‘o brains ... / Too bad he ain’t using them.” You can say the same thing about Tweak Bird. You can say the same thing about Tweak Bird. You can say the same thing about Tweak Bird. And repeat. You can now see what I mean about this whole thing being rather humorous, right? It’s hard to take anyone seriously when it turns out they don’t have very much to say, and are reduced to doing nothing but repeating themselves. However, maybe that’s the whole point, so I’ll give Tweak Bird the slight benefit of the doubt here.


Zachary Houle is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He has been a Pushcart Prize nominee for his short fiction, and the recipient of a writing arts grant from the City of Ottawa. He has had journalism published in SPIN magazine, The National Post (Canada), Canadian Business, and more. He also reviews books for

Related Articles
19 Jun 2014
Any Ol' Way is a record of promise from a band that has clearly found focus. But its overreliance on tight structures nips too many moments for expansion in the bud.
7 Oct 2008
Teak Bird is not what you might expect and that is a good thing.
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks

© 1999-2015 All rights reserved.™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.