Puddlegum

Music blog and podcast covering dream pop, shoegaze, bedroom pop

The Innocence Mission reissues ‘Birds Of My Neighborhood’

The Innocence Mission has reissued their 1999 album Birds of My Neighborhood on vinyl. They write stunning dream pop folk songs, refining their sound to this day. This is the first time Birds of My Neighborhood has been pressed on vinyl (find it on BandCamp), and it comes with a new album cover.

This particular album, Birds of My Neighborhood, is a foundational album of theirs that began to set the tone of their future albums. Reoccurring imagery first appeared in this album, and their folk tones were fully embraced. The album includes a moving John Denver cover of Follow Me. It’s simply a beautiful record.

Catching up with The Innocence Mission

This band first formed in the 1980s, signing to A&M Records for their first three albums, The Innocence Mission, Umbrella, and Glow. They have since released nine albums on independent labels, Kneeling Elephant, What Are Records, and Badman Recording Co. Their latest album, See You Tomorrow, was released on Bella Union, in 2020.

This three-piece is led by Karen Peris and her husband Don Peris, forming during their high school years in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Mike Bitts plays upright bass on most songs; they’ve retained their original lineup (minus their original drummer). They mix classical guitar, dark piano tones, dreamy electric guitar melodies, upright bass, organ (electric and army field pump organ), and drums. Their sound is melancholic, moody, and moving.

Original cover for The Innocence Mission’s Birds of My Neighborhood

Karen’s voice is childlike, timid, evokes emotion, and has a distinct accent. Her songs have reoccurring themes, such as reflecting on her family in Ireland, their friends whom she calls birds, and imagery from their Catholic faith. Don Peris’ guitar adds both texture and sweeping melodies that elevate the disposition of their sound. Their songs are like a restorative healing tonic, full of reflection and inner wrestling. She has appeared on songs with Denison Witmer (Don and Karen have produced his albums), Natalie Merchant, and Joni Mitchell.

“What makes Karen Peris’ lyrics so remarkable is the economy of words, sensory language, concrete nouns – everyday objects take on tremendous meaning.”

Sufjan Stevens (source)

Sufjan Stevens is known to be a fan of The Innocence Mission, calling their music, “moving and profound.” He describes The Lakes of Canada as, “the perfect song,” and covered their song on La Blogothèque in 2007.

(This is one of my favorite bands, and I plan on writing a much longer piece about The Innocence Mission that covers the span of their discography.)

The Innocence Mission links:

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