Inescapable melodies have earned The Daybirds high praise.By slyly embracing Beatles comparisons and welcoming Web-browsing fans, The Daybirds go global.

Of Beatles and Birds 

Inescapable melodies have earned The Daybirds high praise.By slyly embracing Beatles comparisons and welcoming Web-browsing fans, The Daybirds go global.

When scrolling through the list of acts with which The Daybirds have been compared, a few names appear repeatedly. There's Radiohead, Squeeze, David Bowie, Ben Folds Five, and even early Chicago, before Peter Cetera turned the group into AOR staples. However, the sentence "The Daybirds sound like ..." ends most frequently with the name of a band that's straight outta Liverpool. It's intimidating yet undeniably flattering for a fledgling pop group from Liberty to be so unavoidably linked with the Fab Four, and pianist/bassist/ukulele player/singer Jon Sweetwood's well aware of the power of association.

"You can argue all day about whether that comparison is fair or valid, you know? But, honestly, when someone asks us what we sound like and it's just some bloke I've never met before, I say, 'Do you like The Beatles, Radiohead, David Bowie?'" says Sweetwood, managing to work a British colloquialism into his response Madonna-style. "That's just for some name recognition. It's similar (to The Beatles) in that we all sing and we all concentrate on melodies and harmonies, but after all it can be argued that there are no good melody lines left because The Beatles took them all."

Maybe, but with songs such as the breezy "She Ran Away," with its All we need is time chorus fading in and out, it's obvious The Daybirds are doing their best to take those melody lines back, and it's an effort that hasn't exactly gone unnoticed in the gritty world of Kansas City rock. In addition to garnering a solid fanbase and constant online accolades, the group managed to catch the eye of at least one local hero -- Kansas' Kerry Livgren. It seems the original Wayward Son caught wind of the boys, checked out their show at a Topeka hot spot, then made a plug for the group in a subsequent interview.

In recruiting an army for an international pop overthrow, which advocates a world in which boys and girls in all bands play their own instruments and write their own songs, The Daybirds have enlisted the services of avid Web surfers as well. In addition to gracing the metro area with their rich, textured compositions, The Daybirds have garnered positive reviews in the UK's Bucket Full of Brains (sample quote: "These guys are just so full of ideas -- it's plain scary") and subsequently found fans all over the World Wide Web.

"The secret to online success is to make your Web site look good and interesting," says Sweetwood, surprisingly overlooking the aural qualities of the endeavor. "It's kind of like when you're out on a date for the first time. You don't want to give all the goods away at once, but you want to market and package it. If you want the people to dance along, you gotta dance on stage, and if you want to hold people's interest on your Web site you have to make it flashy and clean."

The same could be said for The Daybirds' songs. Their complex arrangements, which incorporate brass, ukuleles, and keyboards, make their three-minute gems flashier than a Cash Money video, but their laid-back sense of purpose keeps things from getting too mucked up. After all, this is pop music, where an entire song, such as "Smile and Shine," can consist of I can see you smile at me/I can see you shine. Somehow, you get the feeling that if The Daybirds were millionaires signed to an evil multinational conglomerate, they wouldn't be raging against the machine that feeds them. Maybe that's part of what makes The Daybirds, and their guileless songs, so endearing. Sweetwood admits as much on "She Ran Away," singing, Maybe I am numb/but all I really loved/Is when the C goes to the B-flat to the A/and down a half step.

"I think that people like music because of something that sticks in their head from when they were younger, or whatever, and you can attach a song to your own experience," adds Sweetwood. "Why you like a song and why I liked it when I wrote it are two different things." As for what makes The Daybirds' musical droppings so sought after, Sweetwood theorizes, "We're slightly different from what's out there now, so it feels fresh. Now, it can be argued how fresh it is, but people like new approaches on how they listen to life, so when they hear something new they respond to it."

Responses might vary at this weekend's Portland, Oregon, schmooze-fest North by Northwest, at which the group will perform, but Sweetwood facetiously expects "crowds of thousands carrying us off the stage on their shoulders and filling us with cheap alcohol." The Beatles never had it so good. Perhaps the group will receive a smaller-scale version of this warm welcome when it returns to the area for an October 2 gig with Kristie Stremel at The Jazzhaus and a high-profile stint alongside Dave Matthews Band collaborator Tim Reynolds at the Grand Emporium on October 20.

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