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Archive for the ‘Andrew Bird’ Category

SOUNDTRACKHOLIDAYS RULE (2012).

This collection is fairly new (a second volume has just come out this year).  It was curated by Chris Funk from The Decemberists.  It’s a nice mix of contemporary bands and classic songs.  The disc is mostly fun–it gets a little bogged down in the middle–and upbeat.

FUN-“Sleigh Ride”
The first time I heard this  had no idea who it was (I didn’t look at the disc).  I actually thought it was a female pop singer.  After listening a few times I’m mixed but favorable on it.  I love the sound effects in the background.  It’s fun, even with the autotune.

THE SHINS-“Wonderful Christmastime”
This is one of my least favorite Christmas songs, but I like this version better than Pauls’s.  It doesn’t sound especially like The Shins to me though.

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT AND SHARON VAN ETTEN-“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
I love Rufus’ distinctive voice–he does louche so well.  Sharon is somewhat indistinct here but she is well-matched with him.

PAUL McCARTNEY-“The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)”
This might be the only disc I have where someone covers a song by an artist on the disc.  His version of this is way too slow.  But I am intrigued that he says “some holly and some mistletoe” (Because he’s vegetarian).

BLACK PRAIRIE featuring SALLIE FORD-“(Everybody’s Waitin’ for) The Man with the Bag”
I typically don’t care for this song, but I love this bluegrassy version.  It’s stomping and fun (and Chris Funk plays on it).

THE CIVIL WARS-“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”
The Civil Wars are downbeat folk artists but, man, their voices together are so lovely.  Their harmonies make this song essential despite the less than upbeat rhythms.

CALEXICO-“Green Grows the Holly”
This song sounds so wonderfully Calexico.  I love it and would even have assumed it was an original of theirs if I didn’t know better,

AGESANDAGES-“We Need A Little Christmas”
I’m torn about this song.  They modify the delivery and I think I like it.  It’s also pretty infrequently played so it gets extra points.  But it feels like a real downer when you can hear the lyrics so clearly.

HOLLY GOLIGHTLY-“That’s What I Want for Christmas”
I don’t know who this is. And I don’t really care for this song which is kind of slow and ponderous even if the message is a good one.

IRMA THOMAS WITH PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND-“May Ev’ry Day be Christmas”
This is big brassy version of the song which sounds like it could be quite old with Thomas’ husky voice.

HEARTLESS BASTARDS-“Blue Christmas”
I dislike this song to begin with, so making a countryish version certainly doesn’t help.

ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER-“Santa, Bring My Baby Back to Me”
So this song is interesting with its strange chord choices and themes.  And it would be great if it were like 2 minutes long.  It seems to end quite naturally at that time, but then some vibes come in and the song gets all slinky.  That would be fine except it just repeats the same line and vibes section for 3 minutes!  WTF Eleanor?

FRUIT BATS-“It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas”
It drives me nuts the way this guys says Creeesmas.  Why does he say it like that?  It’s crazy.  And I can’t get past it because he says it a bunch.

Y LA BAMBA-“Señor Santa”
This song is more or less “Mister Sandman” but sung with the lyrics of Mister Santa.  There’s a wheezy accordion and the great accented voice of the lead singer Luz Elena Mendoza.  I love this and more artists should invent songs like this for the holidays.

PUNCH BROTHERS-“O come, O come, Emmanuel”
The Punch Brothers are awesome and this version of this song terrific.  Chris Thile sings wonderfully as he gets that mandolin worked up.  I love that they turn it into an opportunity to stretch out some, too.

THE HEAD AND THE HEART-“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”
A terrific duet with the unmistakable voice of Charity Rose Thielen.  This is a sprightly and fun song and they do a great job.  I love the way she sings “maybe I’m crazy” and the vamping at the end is fantastic.

ANDREW BIRD-“Auld Lang Syne”
Andrew plays some high-spirited violin and sings briskly.  There’s a kind of countryish feel to it, which is quite different for this song.

Overall this is a good collection to add.  Nothing offensive or off-putting and maybe just one or two duds.

[READ: December 21, 2017] “The First Day of Winter”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 3, 2017] Belle and Sebastian

Sarah and I saw Belle and Sebastian back in 2015 at Radio City Music Hall.  The show was great and we had a really fun time.  I knew we’d enjoy seeing them again, so I was surprised and pleased to see that they were playing the Mann Center (even if I said we wouldn’t go back and this was now show number three).

The venue was perfect for the band, and Stuart at least seemed to really appreciate the sound and warmth of the shell.  Astonishingly, the show was nowhere near sold out.  One of the guards told me they’d barely sold 3,000 tickets.  What the hell?   That explains how I was able to get row R or whatever we had.

So the band had no new album to promote (although they did recently release a new song).  I wondered what they’d be playing and if it would be basically the same show as last time. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 3, 2017] Andrew Bird

My experience with Andrew Bird has been frustrating.  I often hear a song or story about him and I think, “I love this guy!”  Whether it’s a feature on his amazing whistling or his adventurous violin playing, I love the songs that they play.

But when I try to listen to more of his songs, I find them…okay.  Never bad, just okay.  Perhaps if I really devoted time to the songs I would learn to appreciate them more, but as it is I find them pleasant.

And this concert was much the same.  I really enjoyed a number of the songs he played (I don’t know the names of most of them), but by the end of the set, I was sort of drifting off a bit.

Before the show we met some friends who were also there.  One of them told me that he often plays solo, looping his violin and such.  He did loop the violin a number of times, but he played every song with his four piece.  And while I can’t compare something I haven’t seen, I feel like the band worked very well and made the show a bit more upbeat. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 3, 2017] Porches

I’ve complained several times already about the trip to the Mann and while this one moved a little more smoothly, we were still pretty late.  We caught all of two songs from Porches.

I had heard of Porches when I saw that they were the opening slot for Belle & Sebastian and Andrew Bird, but I didn’t know much about them (I think I had them confused with about four other bands with similar names).

They are described as a synthpop band on Wikipedia, but as you can see from the photo, there’s more than synths. Lead Porch Aaron Maine was an amusing and engaged front man.  I enjoyed that when he introduced the final song he said, “I suppose this will be our last song,” or something else noncommittal.

(more…)

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3shadSOUNDTRACK: ANDREW BIRD-Tiny Desk Concert #536 (May 31, 2016).

andrewbirdI haven’t known too many of the recent Tiny Desk performers, but I do know Andrew Bird.  I heard him on NPR and was quite taken with his whistling (one of his trademarks).  I bought his album, but learned after listening to it that I prefer him more in small doses and single songs rather than a whole album.

And while I didn’t love the album (it’s good but didn’t blow me away), these three songs are pretty great.

That whistling is present a lot during this Tiny Desk Concert.  The first song “Are You Serious” has a lot of whistling and is an incredibly catchy song (possibly because it has a very similar melody to “Oops I Did It Again”?).  Regardless of the reason, this song is really fun.  One of the delightful things about Bird, in addition to his whistling is that he also plays violin in number of different ways.  He strums it like a guitar for the beginning of the song and even plays a plucked solo (while still holding it like a guitar).  There’s also some “proper playing” by the end of the song.

“Roma Fade” also opens with his whistling and violin plucking and then shifts to s much more uptempo violin bowing.  It’s got a very catchy melody and again I love how he switches from plucked violin notes to bowed melody.

“Capsized” is a song I have been hearing on WXPN quite a bit.  I had no idea it was him and I really liked it so it was a surprise treat to hear it here.  I don’t recall if the radio version opens this way but in the Tiny Desk, there’s a great fast violin intro and some bowed upright bass rumbling.  The verses are great but it’s the the catchy chorus “and when you wake up” that rules the song.  There’s a cool plucked violin solo and some more nice bowing.

The band he has (bass, guitar and drums) also sings great harmonies which really make these songs sound big.  It’s a great Tiny Desk and means I’m going have to dig out the album I have and give it another spin.  And actually it is good, just a bit more mellow than I like.

[READ: March 10, 2016] Three Shadows

I really liked just about everything in this graphic novel.  I was struck almost from the start by Pedrosa’s drawing style, which relished in loops.

The first page has a boy and his father walking in the garden.  The tree is comprised of circles, the man’s pipe is producing circle smoke rings, even the apples in the trees are swirling circles.  The whole pages looks to be in motion.  And it has a very interesting folk-art feel.  On the next page the trees are simply big swirling circles.  It’s really visually striking.

However, once a story begins “Back then life was simple and sweet,” you know that the story isn’t going to be a happy one.

But it does start off peaceful.  This small family–mom dad and little boy live in an idyllic little house far from the world.  But one day, their dad sees three shadows on the top of the hill.  He gets really freaked out about them even though they don’t come close.  His wife thinks that he is overreacting, but every time he sees them, he knows they are up to something.  And then one night they come in adn try to take the little boy. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_10_14_13McCall.inddSOUNDTRACK: BENJY FERREE-Tiny Desk Concert #15 (May 29, 2009).

benjyI had never heard of Benjy Feree before this Tiny Desk Concert, and I have still never heard of him.  I don’t know a thing about him, and I kind of like that.  Where did they find him?  They seem to know him very well.  (He grew up locally to D.C., so I guess that’s it).

He plays four songs and he is very funny.

“I Get No Love” opens with Benjy whistling and playing a guitar in a Spanish style (not fingerpicking but that fast strumming style).  But when the song proper begins, it’s a bouncy acoustic song.  Benjy has a nice voice.  He also encourages everyone to get out their pens a make a beat.  The whistling is truly amazing. It’s strong and powerful and very catchy.

In the second song, “Fear,” Benjy pulls out a great falsetto—it’s a wonderful combination of his regular powerful voice and some cool high notes too.  Then he tells the story of working in an office.  He says his boss looked like Clarence Clemmons.  It’s a very funny story.

Then he starts talking to the “chat room.”  He messes up the tuning of his third song, “When You’re 16.”  But he pulls through with a very solid acoustic song with more good whistling.  After the song he says he’d like to take lessons from Andrew Bird in whistling.  And then he curses which leads to a lengthy and funny story about going to school at a Baptist Church.

“The Grips” is the final song, it’s a slower, very nice song, which really shows his range.

He is a charming and very funny and the end (the David Letterman joke) is especially amusing.  And I have to say that I thought his hair looked totally fake and then I read that it was a wig.  Ha.

[READ: January 7, 2014] “Take Your Licks”

This New Yorker has several small essays about work.  They are primarily from people who I wasn’t familiar with–only Amy Poehler saved the five from being unread.  When after reading all of them I enjoyed them enough to include them all here.

The pieces are labelled under “Work for Hire” and each talks about a humiliating job.

So Poehler’s essay is all about working at an ice cream shoppe as a young girl–a typical summer job.  I’ve often seen young girls working in ice cream shoppes for summer jobs and I always imagined that they would get the hugest arm muscles from scooping out in those awkwardly deep freezers.  But Poehler focuses more on the cleaning–every night anything that wasn’t nailed down got cleaned.  Ugh. (more…)

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