If there’s any doubt in your mind that death can make for a powerful artistic catalyst, then just ask Chadwick Bidwell. He’s the lyricist and lead vocalist for San Francisco’s Ral Partha Vogelbacher—and in the past, their records have been tongue-in-cheek affairs about elves and knights and warhorses. But Shrill Falcons is a different story. It focuses on the death of Bidwell’s father, giving the lyrics—dense and literary enough to deserve comparisons to Dan Bejar and Matthew Friedberger—a new sombre weight. And as it turns out, that’s all the band needed to take a impressive creative leap forward. The music, provided by members of Thee More Shallows, is equal to the challenge, building a sound that (like Grandaddy’s) can be sweeping and subterranean, or upbeat and rocking. It might have taken death to do it, but it seems like Ral Partha Vogelbacher have come into their own.
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