Trees at Dusk, the debut album from local quintet Birds of Virginia, is a warm and fuzzy country-rock amble, the perfect sonic balm for the brutal winter months on the immediate horizon. Coming at the alt-country songwriting playbook from the slack-jawed indie end of the spectrum, the group has more in common with the likes of the Silver Jews—a snippet of whose lyrics supplied their name—and Evan Dando in his country-bumpkin mode than any real deal honky-tonkers. So while there's little twang in frontman Leonard James' everyman tenor, his group knows its way around a gently shuffling rhythm. Throughout Trees' dozen tracks the group effortlessly pairs pop bounce with its weepy pedal-steel guitar lines and swooning violin swells. With one all-time tear-in-beer classic already under their belts the first time out of the gate ("Drink Yourself to Even") and sardonic bar-room witticisms to spare (sample lyric: "Nobody knows you until it's time to pay the rent"), Birds of Virginia find themselves firmly among the local scene's most promising new bands.
BIRDS OF VIRGINIA play with MINOR KINGDOM at 10 p.m. on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4, at the 331 CLUB; 612.331.1746