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Alternative & Indie - Released March 22, 2019 | Loma Vista Recordings

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It wasn’t so long ago that Andrew Bird was recording his music onsite for his Echolocations series, but it seems since then he has had a change of heart. With the series still unfinished, he has released the bold new album My Finest Work Yet whose cover was inspired by the famous 1793 painting La Mort de Marat by Jacques-Louis David. This time, the album was recorded live in studio and produced by Paul Butler, the champion of retro sounds who now brings us folk-rock road-trip tunes like Sispyphus with its 60’s vibe. The album’s lyrics are overtly political and make an appeal against Trump’s America as Bird started writing it after the elections had taken place. Upon listening to the music, it soon becomes clear that the title of the album is more of a humble truth than an attempt to brag as Bird is truly at the top of his game. Plush, sophisticated melodies are enhanced by vocals, whistling, strings and piano which all come together to produce a delightful sound. Although it may be America’s favourite instrument, in all but the folk ballad Bellevue Bridge Club the album favours a greater instrumental variety than just the violin. Well-produced and rich yet still light, we would have to agree with Bird – this is his finest work yet. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz  
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 1, 2016 | Concord Loma Vista

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 22, 2019 | Loma Vista Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 8, 2005 | Wegawam Music Co.

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Pop - Released June 3, 2014 | Wegawam Music Co.

Continuing with the easy tone set by 2012's Break It Yourself and its stripped-down companion piece Hands of Glory, Andrew Bird retreats even further from the elegant pop orchestrations and looping of the decade prior, turning in his most ardently rural album to date. Things Are Great Here, Sort Of... marks yet another era of Bird's prolific and ever-evolving career. For one, it's an album of songs by long-tenured Chicago duo the Handsome Family, making this the first of his releases not to contain a single Andrew Bird song. Additionally, it marks a dedicated return to the live, single-mike recording technique he championed on his first two albums with the Bowl of Fire in the late '90s. Over the years, he has proven himself an inventive, boundary-pushing artist, but as a performer, his musicianship is truly something to behold and the performances he and his new band deliver here are strong and wonderfully nuanced. As a longtime friend, admirer, and occasional collaborator, Bird first tackled the Handsome Family's song "Don't Be Scared" (which receives an updated arrangement here as well) on 2003's Weather Systems, an album that marked his sea change into the mysterious, whistling pop maestro that would go on to international acclaim in the years to follow. The dark undercurrents and gothic beauty of Rennie and Brett Sparks' country and folk songs dovetail neatly with Bird's own darker leanings and his interpretations of their catalog are sparse and haunting, aided richly by his Hands of Glory band, which includes fellow songwriter Tift Merritt on guitar and vocals, double bassist Alan Hampton, pedal steel player Eric Heywood, and former Bowl of Fire drummer Kevin O'Donnell. Tracks like "Cathedral in the Dell" and "Tin Foiled" show a kind of laid-back warmth in their delivery, giving the effect of sitting inside the room with the band during a dress rehearsal. The lonesome "Giant of Illinois" and particularly "My Sister's Tiny Hands" offer a close-up look at Andrew Bird as a true folksinger, interpreting a type of Americana far less wordy and more deliberate than much of his own material, and he rises to the challenge. There is no studio manipulation, nor was there even a soundboard. Recorded with a single mike running into a tape machine in Bird's Los Angeles living room, the ten songs were knocked out in three days' time, apparently after the album's press release and album cover had already been made public. Whether this ultra-organic approach carries into future releases or is just a sort of mid-career palate cleanser, Things Are Great Here is a lovely collection and another unique release by one of the era's most distinctive artists. ~ Timothy Monger
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 6, 2017 | Wegawam Music Co.

Recorded while wading up to his ankles in the Los Angeles River, Echolocations: River is the second in Andrew Bird's series of instrumental works inspired by and captured amid the natural world. The Echolocations series was introduced in 2015 with Canyon, a mystical seven-piece violin suite that utilized the massive natural reverberations of Utah's Coyote Gulch canyons. Like Canyon, River is also a site-specific work, featuring Bird serenading the areas underneath and around the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge in the Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles, the city the former Chicagoan now calls home. Throughout his career, Bird has maintained a remarkably consistent output, peppering his primary pop-oriented releases with more experimental fare and passion projects like this one. Following 2016's excellent Are You Serious, one of the most accessible LPs he's made in years, he again ditches the guitar, glockenspiel, and pitch-perfect whistling to focus on his primary instrument, the violin. River opens with "The Cormorants," one of five tracks appropriately named after birds, nodding both to his surname and the local inhabitants of this stretch of water. The hushed white noise of running water and distant traffic paints the backdrop as Bird patrols the space, slowly building up steam for "Ellipses," a heavily layered showstopper that melds acoustic improvisation with his trademark looped orchestrations. Darkly enchanting, he trills playfully against shifting octave-tweaked bass lines while underneath, what sounds like manipulated splashing keeps a mysterious rhythm. "Gypsy Moth" is classic Bird, building on a minimalist phrase that shifts fluidly with each repeated measure over its six and a half minutes. The sanguine pizzicato-led "Down Under the Hyperion Bridge" is as close as River comes to pop melodicism -- in spite of its nine-minute length -- and also marks the only appearance of Bird's voice as he sings wordlessly along to the lead melody. Like its Utah-made predecessor, Echolocations: River is a wholly unique experience, fusing ambient improvisations with chamber music and environmental soundscapes. It's also quite refreshing to hear Bird lean so easily into the role of violinist/composer with no other instrumentation or words to distract. ~ Timothy Monger
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 1, 2016 | Concord Loma Vista

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Pop - Released June 10, 2003 | Wegawam Music Co.

With Weather Systems, violin virtuoso Andrew Bird took another conscious step to broaden his career when he moved out of Chicago to a farm in northwest Illinois, renovated the barn into a recording studio, and left the Rykodisc label for the small indie Grimsey (the album was later licensed to Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe label) to create his most distinct recording to date. Only two of the Bowl of Fire members lend their abilities here (hence the billing of the record as a solo venture): longtime comrade Kevin O'Donnell, with his fluid and melodic drumming, adds to much of the recording, as does vocalist/guitarist Nora O'Connor, whose voice sounds like it was made to duet with Bird's. Contributions by Lambchop collaborator Mark Nevers on minimal guitar and production round out the cast on this moody and transfixing effort. The violin is the most prominent component by far; layer upon layer create beautifully complex string sections and saturate the soundscapes behind Bird's eloquent lyricism. This is nothing new, as evidenced on his astonishing predecessor, The Swimming Hour, but his approach to the instrument -- a great deal of pizzicato, strumming, and liberal use of effects -- suggests that Bird prepared not only for a unique advance on his songwriting, but also how he would pull off these songs in a live solo setting, which was partially documented on his live EP of 2002, Fingerlings. An excellent display of this layering approach is the truly progressive title track -- one of the greatest moments in Bird's career. The entire track is assembled solely with multi-tracked violins fluttering in and out, one fingerpicked almost like a banjo roll, and at the three-and-three-quarters-minute mark, an octave pedal is applied to the pizzicato violin, pitching the notes down two octaves to provide a bassline underneath a vivid, cinematic, delicate, yet broad and sweeping choir of violins and whistling. Not to get too far ahead; the title track is not the first example of Bird's aptitude for whistling on Weather Systems, or indeed for his entire catalog, but this recording (his fourth full-length) is the first to showcase his ability to do so, adding another dynamic to the talented vocalist. In fact, the opening track, aptly titled "First Song," begins with a whistled melody and O'Connor's guitar accompaniment, then breaks into a comfortable waltz lyrically borrowing from and based on the Galway Kinnell poem of the same title. The journey through the rest of Weather Systems is just as relaxed, passing through Bird's most sinister composition, "I," with its slightly atonal and creepy, high violins; the pop gem "Lull," guided by O'Donnell's shuffling drums and rhythmic vocal play by Bird and O'Connor; and an inspired take on the Handsome Family's "Don't Be Scared," which serves as the crescendo of the album. In the end, Weather Systems is the kind of perfection any number of artists strive for; the performance is passionate, lucid, and engaging, and the recording has depth and warm ambience to the point that the room itself becomes an instrument (one can hear the creaking of the floorboards under Bird's feet on the title track). The album in its entirety achieves a rarity in pop music where the production, performance, and sincerity -- with arrangements which never sound forced -- meet the quality of the songwriting, resulting in a timeless effort where the sum is greater than its parts. ~ Gregory McIntosh
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2016 | Concord Loma Vista

Marriage, fatherhood, and California are on the mind of Andrew Bird, whose tenth LP, Are You Serious, offers a rare glimpse into the enigmatic artist's personal life. Prior to this release, Bird's vast and perpetually inventive body of work has generally eschewed confessional songwriter fare, opting instead for the clever wordplay of a worldly observer who sets the scene but rarely lives in it. A lifelong troubadour whose wandering ways have seemingly found some respite as a Los Angeles family man, the native Chicagoan cracks open the door and reveals himself in a way that manages to strike an elegant balance with his more cryptic tendencies. One of the most dramatic of these revelations is "Valley of the Young," a track whose sweeping rock crescendos punctuate its coming-of-middle-age take on becoming a parent "where your friends will become strange to you, just as you will become strange to them." The lovely "Bellevue" offers a heartfelt paean to his wife as he sings "Now I found someone who can slake my thirst in a land beset by drought" while on the title cut, Bird takes aim at his own verbosity, wryly crooning "Used to be so willfully obtuse, or is the word abstruse? Semantics like a noose, get out your dictionaries." Still, this subtle shift inward hasn't dampened his poetic flair and musically he manages to distill his creative hallmarks into a set that beautifully melds the stripped down tone of later works like 2012's Break It Yourself with the lushly appointed folk-pop orchestrations of his mid-2000s output. Reuniting with producer Tony Berg, who helmed his 2005 tour de force The Mysterious Production of Eggs, Bird is also joined by multi-instrumentalist Blake Mills and L.A. favorite Fiona Apple, who duets with him on the quirky acoustic "Left Hand Kisses." The veteran presence of keyboardist Patrick Warren (Michael Penn, Aimee Mann) and legendary mixing engineer Tchad Blake (Los Lobos, Richard Thompson) also lend a bit of West Coast polish to the proceedings. Soulful offerings like "Capsized" and "Truth Lies Low" color the record's first half while the strange, dub-flavored pop of "Puma" makes for one of his catchiest tracks in years. The eerie magic of "Saints Preservus" into the sunny "The New Saint Jude" sets off a marvelous four-song run that closes out what is some of Andrew Bird's best work in nearly a decade. ~ Timothy Monger
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 1, 2013 | Wegawam Music Co.

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2016 | Concord Loma Vista

Marriage, fatherhood, and California are on the mind of Andrew Bird, whose tenth LP, Are You Serious, offers a rare glimpse into the enigmatic artist's personal life. Prior to this release, Bird's vast and perpetually inventive body of work has generally eschewed confessional songwriter fare, opting instead for the clever wordplay of a worldly observer who sets the scene but rarely lives in it. A lifelong troubadour whose wandering ways have seemingly found some respite as a Los Angeles family man, the native Chicagoan cracks open the door and reveals himself in a way that manages to strike an elegant balance with his more cryptic tendencies. One of the most dramatic of these revelations is "Valley of the Young," a track whose sweeping rock crescendos punctuate its coming-of-middle-age take on becoming a parent "where your friends will become strange to you, just as you will become strange to them." The lovely "Bellevue" offers a heartfelt paean to his wife as he sings "Now I found someone who can slake my thirst in a land beset by drought" while on the title cut, Bird takes aim at his own verbosity, wryly crooning "Used to be so willfully obtuse, or is the word abstruse? Semantics like a noose, get out your dictionaries." Still, this subtle shift inward hasn't dampened his poetic flair and musically he manages to distill his creative hallmarks into a set that beautifully melds the stripped down tone of later works like 2012's Break It Yourself with the lushly appointed folk-pop orchestrations of his mid-2000s output. Reuniting with producer Tony Berg, who helmed his 2005 tour de force The Mysterious Production of Eggs, Bird is also joined by multi-instrumentalist Blake Mills and L.A. favorite Fiona Apple, who duets with him on the quirky acoustic "Left Hand Kisses." The veteran presence of keyboardist Patrick Warren (Michael Penn, Aimee Mann) and legendary mixing engineer Tchad Blake (Los Lobos, Richard Thompson) also lend a bit of West Coast polish to the proceedings. Soulful offerings like "Capsized" and "Truth Lies Low" color the record's first half while the strange, dub-flavored pop of "Puma" makes for one of his catchiest tracks in years. The eerie magic of "Saints Preservus" into the sunny "The New Saint Jude" sets off a marvelous four-song run that closes out what is some of Andrew Bird's best work in nearly a decade. ~ Timothy Monger
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Folk/Americana - Released February 8, 2014 | Andrew Bird

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Folk/Americana - Released February 3, 2014 | Andrew Bird

Alternative & Indie - Released March 6, 2012 | Mom+Pop

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 30, 2012 | Mom+Pop

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This two-fer from the crafty violinist, minutia-loving songwriter, and peerless whistler includes his excellent 2012 sixth studio long-player Break It Yourself, along with the album's more rustic companion piece Hands of Glory (also released in 2012), the latter of which was recorded around a single microphone. ~ James Christopher Monger
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 7, 2013 | Wegawam Music Co.

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 1, 2013 | Wegawam Music Co.

Limited to just 250 copies, the self-released Fingerlings documents Andrew Bird's electrifying live show, both in solo performance and backed by his Bowl of Fire. Though no recording dates are given, the material is culled from appearances across the country, most notably hometown venues the Abbey Pub and the Hideout, the latter Chicago's best live music spot; much of the material has yet to appear on any of Bird's Rykodisc LPs, and presumably anticipates an upcoming studio project. Although the performances featuring the full Bowl of Fire lineup are incendiary, highlighted by a barnstorming rendition of The Swimming Hour's "How Indiscreet," the best songs here are also the most stripped down; whether solo or backed solely by the great singer/guitarist Nora O'Connor, Bird thrives in more intimate contexts, where his virtuoso violin work achieves new peaks of beauty and grace and his songs, absent the genre trappings of their studio counterparts, even more effectively capture the cosmopolitan timelessness of their musical agenda. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 9, 2015 | Wegawam Music Co.

Alternative & Indie - Released October 30, 2012 | Mom+Pop

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 1, 2013 | Wegawam Music Co.

The second volume in Andrew Bird's self-issued Fingerlings series solidifies the project's approach; More than just a hodgepodge of live recordings culled from appearances far and wide, these discs offer an uncommonly intimate look at the creative process, warts and all. Without any photos or visual cues to tip them off, what might be lost on some listeners is that they're experiencing tightrope walks -- since dissolving his Bowl of Fire backing unit, Bird has primarily played solo, ingeniously recording and looping multiple violin and guitar parts to create the illusion of a full band. The sheer complexity and daring of these ten songs is further enhanced by their evolving arrangements and phrasings. It only takes a Bird fan a few go-rounds at a couple of his Chicago appearances to realize that these songs have already undergone dramatic transformations from the versions captured here, and if the pattern holds true, those that end up appearing on an "official" LP some time in the future will no doubt shed several more skins in the interim. The lone constant is the sheer virtuosity of Bird's violin; With each innovation, he further redefines the instrument's scope and possibilities. ~ Jason Ankeny