Nottingham's been punching above its weight of late, and doing so without focusing on any genre in particular. A few notable examples include Spotlight Kid (shoegaze), Dog Is Dead (indie), Amazing Planes (blues-rock) and chart conqueror Jake Bugg. There are many more we could list, and taking on the reigns of pastoral alt-folk (of the British variety as opposed to any Fleet Foxes stylings) are acoustic instrument wielding quartet Injured Birds. They've got interesting percussion instruments, they've got strings, they've got guitars, they've got banjos and they've even got a bleeding harmonium. In short they've got everything we're getting sick to the back teeth of.
In their defense they have a much more valuable commodity that many other traditionalists forget to include; they've got a load of good tunes. So hold fire on the bandwagon-jumping accusations, it appears we're looking at the real deal here. 'Silver Birches' is the quartet's debut album and the focus is very much on what they're doing, not what other similar bands are up to, so there's no Mumfords type stadium pretend folk, no Noah & The Whale styled TV-ready cash-ins. You could probably wheel out the old cliche that Injured Birds are making the music they want to make and if anyone else likes it then that's a bonus. But of course they want people to like their songs, it's just that they want people to like them for the right reasons.
There's a whole lot of plucking and much of this album is banjo-powered, and believe it or not they turn these sounds into a riotous racket on 'Hey Now, Hey Now', and likewise they're dab hands at gently picked storytelling as found on 'Happy As Clams' or 'Song For Bailey', and there's odd moment where they allow tradition to get the better of them, see 'Wood Is Dead' and 'K'. 'Seaside Towns' even has a touch of the Wild Beasts about it. They can turn their capable hands to many folk offshoots and each one is a success; lyrically they can be clever and witty too, the upbeat 'How You Were Beautiful' and 'In The Doldrums' being particular favourites. Injured Birds are a small fish in a big pond but their ripples shouldn't go unnoticed.