Music Banter

Go Back   Music Banter > The MB Reader > Album Reviews
Register Blogging Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Welcome to Music Banter Forum! Make sure to register - it's free and very quick! You have to register before you can post and participate in our discussions with over 70,000 other registered members. After you create your free account, you will be able to customize many options, you will have the full access to over 1,100,000 posts.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-18-2009, 12:33 PM   #11 (permalink)
**** Steve Harvey
 
mannny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: MASS
Posts: 423
Default

Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire - The Swimming Hour (2001)



1. Two Way Action
2. Core and Rind
3. Why?
4. 11:11
5. Case in Point
6. Too Long
7. Way out West
8. Waiting to Talk
9. Fatal Flower Garden
10. Satisfied
11. Headsoak
12. How Indiscreet
13. Dear Old Greenland

Something new! With The Swimming Hour, Bowl of Fire mark an extreme departure from their old sound and take on a new sound creating the most eclectic record released by Andrew Bird. This album defines the word eclectic; there is elements of pop, swing, jazz, classical, folk, and rock. Bird has referred to this album as his “jukebox album”. He combines all these elements from the past century of music quite nicely to help develop his sound and style as his career progresses.

The Swimming Hour was released in 2001 by Rykodisc and is the last album Bird will release with the Bowl of Fire. Though it did not gain much commercial success at all (the band played some shows for less than forty people in the audience), the album was praised by critics.

The Swimming Hour opens with a pop song with backing vocals by Nora O’Connor. Two Way Action has a very poppy, catchy violin riff that leads the song. 11:11 is another pop song with some great harmony on vocals between Bird and O’Connor. This album is O’Connor’s first appearance with Bird and she will go on to tour with him later. Her soft vocals add some beautiful harmonies to his music.

The few rock songs are the best of the album. Fatal Flower Garden is a wonderful alt-rockish ballad that actually has an electric guitar solo! Satisfied comes out of nowhere. It is a loud blues-rock song that would fit in with a Doors album. It has organ and electric guitar licks with a killer violin solo as Bird shouts the lyrics “I’m all alone / at least I’m satisfied!” Why? adds another blues song to the album. It’s a sexy, laid back song with a nice violin hook. Bird humorously croons the lyrics “Damn you for being so easy-going.”

The Swimming Hour also contains some great folk tunes. Headsoak is the “unofficial title track for the album” and is a beautiful folk ballad with some more great harmonies between Bird and O’Connor. Bird also introduces his "professional whistling" in this track. Dear Old Greenland is another fun laid back folk song that features conversation like vocals between Bird and the backing vocals.

The Swimming Hour marks the new direction that Andrew Bird is moving. It is an extreme departure from past albums and is his first album with contemporary music. Because it is so eclectic and there is such a difference between each song stylistically, the album becomes somewhat hit-or-miss with each track. However, this would be a good starting point if one is looking to get into Bird.

B+
__________________
mannny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-2009, 12:56 PM   #12 (permalink)
**** Steve Harvey
 
mannny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: MASS
Posts: 423
Default

Andrew Bird - Weather Systems (2003)




1. First Song
2. I
3. Lull
4. Action/Adventure
5. →
6. Skin
7. Weather Systems
8. Don't Be Scared
9. ←

Andrew Bird had booked a gig in Chicago to open for a band but when the rest of Bowl of Fire couldn’t make it he decided to play it solo. This gig turned out to be a great success for Bird. This experience showed him that he could make it as a solo artist, so the Bowl of Fire separated and Bird began to create a new sound to start off his solo career. Bird left Rykodisc because of disagreements on where his career was directed and decided to move to a smaller label to release Weather Systems, Righteous Babe Records.

In 2002, Andrew Bird moved to a rural farm in Illinois. Isolated from society, Bird used this time to develop musical ideas and concepts that would be featured on Weather Systems which he recorded at a studio set up in his barn. The result is an atmospheric and ambient album in which the nine songs flow into one another each developing the musical ideas of the album. Though most songs include just Bird’s vocals, violin and whistling, Kevin O’Donnel contributes percussion to a few tracks and Mark Nevers adds guitar to some tracks as well. Nora O’Connor is featured on this album again and she adds even more beauty to this exceptional album.

This small line up may make the album seem quite simple but it is actually musically complex. Bird uses a lot of looping with his violin so in many tracks it sounds as though there is an entire string orchestra present. Action/Adventure is an example of this technique. Pizzicato violin and guitar act as the backing of the rhythm section while there are many harmonies on Bird’s looped violins and whistling. This results in one of the best tracks of the album.

and are very ambient instrumental tracks. is played all on Bird’s looped violins which gives it a very full sound. The distant solo violin adds to the atmospheric theme of the album. is an excellent closing song to the album. It features the full looped violins with distant drumming and glockenspiel. This track is quite majestic and ends the album perfectly. Skin is another instrumental song. It’s one of the more upbeat songs on the album and is a jam with Bird’s whistling over pizzicato violin, guitar and drums.

The title track is an achievement of genius by Andrew Bird. Weather Systems is one of Bird’s most stunning songs. It is utterly amazing what this man can achieve with just a violin. He loops the violin to create a full string orchestra and delivers some of his finest vocals along with sorrowful whistling and poetic lyrics.

Weather Systems is a magnificently atmospheric album and one must listen to it completely in order to fully understand the musical ideas it conveys. This album marks the start of Andrew Bird’s new sound and solo career. Bird’s sound will continue to progress with the coming albums but Weather Systems will remain a very important album to his discography.


(This is the short film packaged with the CD. A few tidbits of recording and some interviews with Bird and bandmates.)

A-
__________________
mannny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-2009, 02:55 PM   #13 (permalink)
Music Addict
 
JJJ567's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 120
Default

I just recieved Armchair Apocrypha on my laptop. I really need to listen to it.
__________________
http://www.last.fm/user/JJJ567
JJJ567 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-26-2009, 03:05 PM   #14 (permalink)
**** Steve Harvey
 
mannny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: MASS
Posts: 423
Default

Andrew Bird - The Mysterious Production of Eggs (2005)




1. /=/
2. Sovay
3. A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left
4. Fake Palindromes
5. Measuring Cups
6. Banking on a Myth
7. Masterfade
8. Opposite Day
9. Skin Is, My
10. The Naming of Things
11. MX Missiles
12. /=/=/
13. Tables and Chairs
14. The Happy Birthday Song

The Mysterious Production of Eggs was released in 2005 on Righteous Babe Records, with the same band line-up as the previous record. With this album, Bird has finally finished his sound that he will stay with for the next few releases. Moving away from the more unconventional music in Weather Systems, Bird has created a stylistic blend of folk, alternative rock, and baroque pop, which makes this his most accessible record. Though this album is a bit more guitar driven, the violin and whistling is still featured prominently, creating a layered sound with loops of violin samples harmonizing with the guitar. The lyrics on The Mysterious Production of Eggs show an advancement in Andrew Bird’s song writing. He writes about themes such as childhood, death, and science, using a particularly vast vocabulary. Though his themes tend to be quite profound he conveys them in a whimsical and sometimes comical manner.

The album starts out with some typical Bird ambience on /=/ and leads into a laid back song, Sovay, a single released on an EP in 2004. The third track is the best of the album and possibly one of Bird’s greatest songs, A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left. A fan favorite and regularly featured on set lists for live shows. It is an epic with slightly enigmatic lyrics about the miracle of human life. Andrew Bird emotionally sings “Why are we alive? / And here's how they replied / You're what happens when two substances collide / And by all accounts you really should have died”. The song is a mix of a somber ballad, that open and close the song, and the middle is an upbeat pop song with an extremely catchy whistled riff.

In Banking On A Myth, Andrew Bird gives commentary on the Record Companies these days saying “he's the one to know, doesn't matter if you blow / no, no, no, no, fact it's just the thing / he thinks we're needing / it's a lukewarm liquid diet they're force feeding”. It is one of the heavier rock songs on the album, with a leading riff on the guitar. Tables and Chairs is musically one of the better songs on the album. There are some great harmonies made by the violin and glockenspiel as well as between Bird and Nora O’Connor. Skin, Is My is a re-visited track from Weather Systems that is also one of the better musical songs. Bird adds lyrics to this older song over the up tempo jam between the guitar and violin. O’Donnell performs brilliantly on this track adding some excellent percussion. The Happy Birthday Song is another highlight of the album, and a personal favorite of mine. It is a mellow ballad driven by a pizzicato violin riff and eventually builds up to a full sound with harmonies on the violin, guitar and glockenspiel. Bird delivers emotional and somber vocals singing “sing me happy birthday / happy birthday / like it's going to be /going to be your last day.”

I would say that Mysterious Production of Eggs is the best starting point if you’re looking to get into Andrew Bird. He achieves a more conventional style but still stays true to his roots, creating an eclectic sound that will define Bird for his next few releases. This album is the best from his solo career, with every track bringing something new to the album, and little filler. The only problem I have with this album is that it doesn’t feature any of Bird’s ambient instrumental songs that are driven by the violin rather than vocals.


A-
__________________
mannny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2009, 05:53 PM   #15 (permalink)
Souls of Sound Sailors
 
Schizotypic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Mojave
Posts: 755
Default

This discography would be a great tool to expand my comfort zone. Iv'e been listening to a few songs from each album on Playlist.com for about an hour: He's for sure a variable sound, but I do appreciate the violin.
Schizotypic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2009, 05:58 PM   #16 (permalink)
Music Addict
 
Black People Are Cool's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Woodstock
Posts: 79
Default

wtf... a variable sound
Black People Are Cool is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2009, 07:16 PM   #17 (permalink)
Groupie
 
X-One's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Montreal
Posts: 10
Default

Just discovered him recently and I've been listening to Armchair Apocrypha nonstop.. It's really good!
X-One is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2009, 09:08 PM   #18 (permalink)
**** Steve Harvey
 
mannny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: MASS
Posts: 423
Default

Thanks for the input guys. If you're looking to get into him, I'll probably post a compilation after two more reviews, to introduce you to his music.
__________________
mannny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2009, 11:29 PM   #19 (permalink)
Music Addict
 
Pianogirl75's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 75
Default

Thanks so much Manny. You're a virtual Andrew Bird encyclopedia! He's my current favorite. I've listened to Armchair Apocrypha repeatedly. I really want Mysterious Production of Eggs because Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left is one of my favorite songs. But I like how he did it at Bonnaroo better than the album.

YouTube - Andrew Bird - "A Nervous Tic Motion..." - Live at Bonnaroo
Pianogirl75 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2009, 11:41 PM   #20 (permalink)
**** Steve Harvey
 
mannny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: MASS
Posts: 423
Default

Yeah, he's excellent live. I've read that when he tours he never plays the same set list and he never plays a song the same way twice.

When I saw him live he did a great version of "Armchairs" and a version of "Why?" that he performed solo amazingly.
__________________
mannny is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads



© 2003-2018 Advameg, Inc.

SEO by vBSEO 3.5.2 ©2010, Crawlability, Inc.