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Futurebirds: Hampton’s Lullaby

B

Futurebirds

Album: Hampton’s Lullaby
Label: Autumn Tone

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If Futurebirds’ full-length debut, Hampton’s Lullaby, were a weather report, it would be hazy and humid, with a chance of thundershowers after dark. In other words, it’s very much a product of Athens, Georgia, a sleepy bohemian college town that spawned a different kind of Southern rock—informed by punk, psych-rock, bubblegum pop, and whatever else you got at the used record store—since the days of formative R.E.M. gigs at the 40 Watt Club. While Hampton’s Lullaby hews relatively close to a conservative country-rock template, the Point Break-referencing “Johnny Utah” emanates a summer-at-dusk sense of melancholy that’s more art-school sensitive than saloon-stool shit-kicking. Futurebirds proceed to milk that mood for all it’s worth for the rest of the record, and while the foreboding banjo-powered “Battle For Rome” doesn’t hit the soft spot in the chest as directly, Dennis Love’s swooping steel-guitar lines remain as evocative as ever. Lullaby is less alluring when Futurebirds bite off more Arcade Fire-style bigness than they can chew on the percolating, feedback-heavy “Happy Animals.” Just relax, boys, have a drink, and watch the sun go down.