The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Birds Of Maya
Valdez Alex Deller , June 30th, 2021 08:05

Philadelphia's Birds of Maya show a brutality bordering on the sublime, finds Alex Deller

Seems apt that a band as messy and addled as Birds Of Maya should record an album back in 2014 and then just… forget about it for a bit. Presumably the tapes were left on a high shelf, buried beneath an avalanche of pit-stained t-shirts or tucked behind piles of old newspapers slowly turning yellow in the basement.

While the better part of a decade has worn on, the music remains as timelessly anachronistic as ever: a frazzled, fucked up walking corpse that leaks dad rock anti-cool, garage rock snarl and the salty-sweet odour of grown men shuddering out their pearls to the well-pawed pages of vintage Marshall catalogues.

If none of this sounds pretty, that’s because it isn’t. Valdez is a roiling, eye-gouging brute that solemnly summons the ghosts of classic rock past only to point, cackle, and jeer at them. One moment they’re aggressively spooling out something that sounds like On The Beach-era Neil Young attacking ‘Five To One’ by The Doors, the next kicking the mortal shit out of something that may once have been ‘Send Me A Postcard’ by Shocking Blue.

Things crunch, grunt, and whinny with much effort and abandon, the band’s gurning labours hitting a sweet spot somewhere between Mudhoney and The Groundhogs. Occasionally they stretch so far for Earthless-like levels of jam band transcendence that you might be able to hear their vertebrae pop – were it not, of course, all so frighteningly loud.

As with the muck peddled by Endless Boogie and Liquorball, the psych, rock, and blues served up here are deeply aberrant. Open hostility and jittery paranoia roughly elbow aside such quaint concepts as ‘good vibes’, and Birds Of Maya remain the same band who were too ugly to ever be swept along with the indie world’s brief flirtation with Comets On Fire. Similarly, they’re far too oddball to satisfy the trapped-in-amber tastes of the stoner rock set, and if their pelvis-stomping aggression speaks to punk rock it’s just too much of a leap to imagine spiky-jacketed louts tie-dyeing their Totalitär tees and pogoing to bastardised Captain Beyond riffs. 

Quite where this leaves Valdez in 2021 anyone’s guess - most likely slipping between the cracks where grease collects, and where bad pennies are temporarily lost. That this could be the case seems a shame since the band’s knuckle-dragging stupidity frequently approaches genius, but you can’t help but think maybe it’s all grist to the mill for them – that so long as the riffs endlessly churn and the sweat that drips from the walls tastes like beer, all is right with the world.