On March 5th, Palm Coast-based band Home is Where released their album ‘I Became Birds’. The following is written by guest columnist Eduardo Díaz-Marin, best known as the lead guitarist of local bands Blüm and Idle Habits.
“Skinny dip, skinned alive. Will you teach me how to die? I have a whole lifetime.”
Is this what it feels like to have a misalignment as to what you know to be, but to look into the mirror and feel entirely disconnected to what you see? How do you even begin to live life to the best of your abilities if you can’t even get a sense of the body you were born in. Can you be taught how to live in this way?
I Became Birds serves as an exploration of these feelings and takes on topics such as gender identity, isolation, anxiety, and confusion and filters them through an explosive, chaotic, and pummeling punk rock album with enough personality and charm to win over even the most cynical person in the room. The band is comprised of Joe Gardella, Trace George (also part of
popular Palm Coast band The Ned), Brandon MacDonald,
and Conor O’Brien. The record itself thrives on that aforementioned cynicism. While the album lyrically feels disillusioned, angry and contemplative, there’s youthful energy that extends well beyond its intended audience, as the band play these songs like they will never get another chance to make music again. The band pulls from an arsenal of influences, jumping from alternative rock anthems (The Scientific
Classification of Stingrays), to the classic leanings of post-hardcore (
Sewn Together), and all
the way to the folk-acoustic leanings that are reminiscent of the more tender moments of early Against Me! or Violent Femmes (The Old Country
). There’s something here that everyone will be able to appreciate.
The production, supplied by Matt Goings, is his best work behind the boards yet. A punk record that feels honest and raw, but with the muscle and density of more modern production that puts it right at home with other records that have been put out the past year.
But as great as the instrumentation, arrangements, and the production are, at the very end of the day, what wins you over is Brandon and their songwriting. It’s what makes this band so special and captivating. Brandon’s knack for sharp, observant, and witty lyricism along with some very pointed hooks, make even the most experimental moments of this record land. Their voice and story-telling propels songs over the edge. Their screams (or “tantrums,” as they are humorously credited in the album’s liner notes) cut to the core of their frustration and sheer exhaustion with the human experience at large. The harmonica playing on the album is great too. As dark as the song topics get, you can’t help but smile to yourself while listening to Brandon’s exuberance and energy throughout the album.
“Wash it down with a rifle or a uniform of gasoline. Leave nothing for the flies.”
Getting up each day, putting one foot in front of the other, facing whatever adversaries may come our way, just to be promised nothing but death. To feel a misalignment with your own body, wanting something – someone – any distraction to take it all away from you. I Became Birds is an exploration of day-to-day life, grappling with gender dysphoria and dealing with the reality of your situation, marching on to the high stakes game of young adulthood. This record legitimately bangs hard, and is one of the best things the local DIY Florida scene has put out in a long time. A record that’s brimming with youthful energy and is every bit as ambitious as it is fun. Every song cuts deep with intensity. The band, through horn arrangements, gang vocals, walls of guitars, sharp, legitimately great songwriting and musicianship, morph and gel themselves into more than just your average local Florida band. This band could be your neighborhood indeed.
AskFlagler thanks Eduardo Díaz-Marin for his contribution. ‘I Became Birds’ is streaming now wherever you consume music.