Pullin’ ‘Tubes: Bird Is The Word

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Earlier this year Andy Kahn threw down a B List that featured his Top 8 Upcoming Albums For 2012. Among the crop of records he highlighted, which included the likes of The Shins, of Montreal and Paul McCartney, was Break It Yourself, the seventh studio album from Andrew Bird. The violin playing-whistling enthusiast has had an interesting path that led to his recent critically acclaimed success. Graduating with a degree in violin performance from Northwestern in 1996, Bird’s self-released first solo album Music of Hair that year was steeped in sounds of traditional American and European folk music – that included nods to bluegrass, klezmer and jazz. Following a stint collaborating with the Squirrel Nut Zippers (who deserve credit as the forerunners to the current Gypsy punk movement) on two studio albums, Bird formed his own band aptly named Andrew Bird’s Bowl Of Fire. The band, which included members of Squirrel Nut Zippers, put out three albums full of the pre-war jazz and swing influenced music, with doses of everything from zydeco to folk to blues to Latin music thrown in.

After disbanding with Bowl Of Fire in 2003, Bird signed to Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records, putting out his first true solo album since the mid-90s with Weather Systems. The album saw a rather radical shift in Bird’s approach as he began to move towards, for lack of a better term, an indie-folk sound that favored lush, densely-layered, dreamy melodic arrangements, which featured his now trademark whistling throughout, and one that has carried him through a string of releases ever since. For his latest studio effort, Bird headed to his studio barn in Western Illinois, recording most of Break Your Self live with a full band, giving the record a bit more of an organic feel. Let’s check out this live in-studio performance of the album’s first single Eyeoneye…

Andrew Bird will kick off the U.S. leg of his world tour on March 14, with an appearance at NPR Music’s SXSW Showcase at Stubb’s BBQ in Austin, Texas. The tour also will include a two-night stand at New York City’s Beacon Theatre on May 4 and 5.

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