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NON-COMM Recap: Andrew Bird dazzles with trio arrangements of “My Finest Work Yet”

Andrew Bird | photo by Rachel Barrish for WXPN

Andrew Bird put on a dazzling display of musicianship and personality on the NPR Music stage Thursday night. The veteran folk-rock multi-instrumentalist played a crisp set featuring four selections from his new LP My Finest Work Yet, all beautifully executed with the accompaniment of bass guitarist Alan Hampton and guitarist/vocalist Madison Cunningham — Bird added that Cunningham, who also performs as a singer-songwriter, has an “outstanding” full-length record of her own coming out in August. Continue reading →

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XPN’s Gotta Hear Songs of the Week: “Sisyphus” and “Bloodless” by Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird | photo by Amanda Demme | courtesy of the artist

Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and whistler Andrew Bird releases his finest work yet, My Finest Work Yet, on March 22nd. With violin as is his primary instrument, his finest work yet is the followup to 2017’s Echolocations: River, the second in a series of records he made primarily using field recordings. Continue reading →

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Join in the celebratory sounds of Belle and Sebastian’s new song “We Were Beautiful”

Belle and Sebastian | photo via artist’s Facebook page

Before Belle and Sebastian take on the Mann Center tomorrow for an uber lineup consisting of them, Andrew Bird and Porches, they’ve shared a new track for us. Though called “We Were Beautiful,” I cornily advocate for a title change to present tense because this track is a downright lovely piece of indie pop. Continue reading →

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Listen to Andrew Bird’s Mountain Stage performance from West Virginia

Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

NPR’s Mountain Stage recently aired folk staple Andrew Bird’s gig in Charleston, West Virginia. His masterful instrumentation shines in this 30+ minute set, sporting his signature whistling and plucky energy to nail tracks from his 2016 Grammy-nominated record Are You Serious and beyond.

Bird is accompanied by fellow musicians Steven Elliott, Alan Hampton, Kevin O’Donnell on guitar, bass and drums (respectively) and The Flat Five’s Nora O’ Connor joins Bird on backup vocals.

Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Boogarins bring psychedelic rock to World Cafe Live

Boogarins | Photo by Breanna Keohane for WXPN
Boogarins | Photo by Breanna Keohane for WXPN

Brazilian rock outfit Boogarins kicked off the Friday afternoon by bringing their psychedelic rock sound into World Cafe Live for this week’s Free at Noon concert. The band made an appearance in Philadelphia not too long ago during their tour with Andrew Bird, and they decided to make one more stop before heading up to Brooklyn. Their tour is in support of their second and most recent album Manual, which was released back in October 2015. Continue reading →

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Seriously: Andrew Bird soars at the Electric Factory

Andrew Bird | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Andrew Bird | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

The title to Andrew Bird‘s newest record is as much a challenge to entry as it is a question — Are You Serious omits the question mark when written in order to ask an even larger question: Are you ready to face the whimsical whistler’s most intensive release yet? On Monday night at the Electric Factory, Bird asked the tough questions of both himself and the assembled audience, and perhaps the answers won’t be easily forthcoming.

Playing a setlist primarily composed of Serious material, he wowed fans one slowly swelling song after another through the night. Bird got the night started in the same way that Serious does—the rollicking, guitar-led noir of “Capsized,” a great introduction to the new cuts. As more of a casual fan, it’s been hard to decypher what of Bird’s discography is necessary listening, but after seeing most of Serious performed before me on Monday night, it’s apparent even to me that these are home runs, instant classics amidst a career already filled with those. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Andrew Bird at Electric Factory, Wild Jim Banfill and His Rolling Rocks at Bourbon and Branch

Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird | Photo by Reuben Cox | courtesy of the artist

Andrew Bird brings his newly-released LP Are You Serious to the Electric Factory tonight. In an interview with The Key last week, Bird discussed the personal outlook of the new work, as well as his prolific output. Watch the video for “Capsized” below and get tickets and more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Wither Not: A conversation with Andrew Bird ahead of his Electric Factory gig

Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird | Photo by Reuben Cox | courtesy of the artist

“Get out your dictionaries,” Andrew Bird instructs us on the title track of Are You Serious, the debonair multi-instrumentalist’s thirteenth-or-so album (it’s difficult to know what counts). It arrives tomorrow, on April Fools Day – yes, seriously – in advance of his appearance at the Electric Factory on Monday.  Perhaps a sly callback to a similar line on “Measuring Cups” (from 2005’s landmark The Mysterious Production of Eggs), it’s also just sound advice when dealing this guy, as avid Bird-ers know well; as he muses self-reflexively earlier in the song: “[I] used to be so willfully obtuse – or is the word abstruse?”  

On Serious, though, without fully laying off the brainy science references and polysyllabic repartee – check his discursive, meta-romantic exchange with Fiona Apple on the bluesy “Left-Handed Kisses” – Bird offers some of his most plainspoken, disarmingly personal lyrics to date. Significantly, the album comes in the wake of both marriage and the birth of his now four-year-old son.  It also features some of his most driving, immediate music in ages, encompassing tense, meaty funk (“Capsized”), Afrobeat inflections (“The New Saint Jude”) and bright, punchy power-pop (the atom-smashing “Puma”) alongside his more typical rustic fiddlings and gypsy-jazz balladry.

Even at its peppiest, Bird’s brand of thoughtful, folksy indie rock isn’t typically the sort of thing that packs venues like the Electric Factory.  Performing solo and (as he does on this tour) with a band, he’s made his name with dazzling violin-work, live looping and uncanny whistling; it’s a subtly spectacular performance style that, for better or worse, benefits greatly from an intimate setting. When Key editor John Vettese caught up with him on the phone from a Nashville tour stop this week, Bird discussed the contrast of performing in big rooms versus small spaces, feelings of being on display in performance and writing, and how a virtuosic output keeps his chops from withering. He also reflected on his beginnings with the Music of Hair LP, which turns 20 this year.

Read the interview below and listen to Are You Serious in full via NPR Music. -K. Ross Hoffman Continue reading →

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XPN MusicNotes: Listen to Fiona Apple sing w/ Andrew Bird on “Left Hand Kisses,” & Jack White to perform w/ “The Muppets”

Andrew Bird sings with Fiona Apple on “Left Hand Kisses,” the 2nd song Andrew shared from his upcoming album “Are You Serious?” which comes out April 1st. Listen to the song. Continue reading →