Ashley Bird McCarthy is a Pittsburgh based composer/drummer whose mathy brand of post-rock is inspired by Yinzer legends Don Caballero.
McCarthy’s August release, Flying Machine, bears the image of a patent filed in 1889 by one R.J. Spalding. Patent US398984A concerned a full-body harness attached to a massive pair of wings, a fantastical (and very unsafe) Flying Machine. Hence, McCarthy’s album title. “Stranded In Rainland,” a track from the release, is propelled by fluttering hi-hats that I nearly mistook for The National’s “Sorrow” intro, until they were joined by a swarm of pointillist guitar plucks, a paint spatter of notes that sounds a bit like U2’s The Edge soundtracking an arcade game. After several minutes of tightly controlled propulsion, the track opens up into a cascade of guitar arpeggios; you can imagine the song’s first half soundtracking a 19th century human’s janky-winged flight through a low-hanging cloud bank before the second half sees them breaking through into glorious sunlight. I’m hoping that our friend R.J. Spalding didn’t go full Icarus way back when; no matter how things may have turned out for him, though, we have “Stranded In Rainland” to chronicle his flight.
Side Note: McCarthy constructed April 2019’s A Well-Boiled Icicle using Guitar Pro 7 due to a lack of studio access; it’s very possible that Flying Machine was created the same way. Even so, it’s clear that McCarthy has a unique and creative ear for composition and arrangement, so just wait until they get their hands on some instruments and a recording space.
Check out more from Ashley Bird McCarthy