Mar 27, 2007

Armchair Apocrypha-Andrew Bird

"Armchair Apocrypha" is most definitely a triumph for Chicago's Andrew Bird. In 2005 he released "The Mysterious Production of Eggs" to much acclaim, although I will admit it took quite a while before I succumbed to its subtle charms. It eventually expressed itself to me as a delicate, complex album of beautifully crafted sounds. But after seeing him live a couple of months ago I appreciated this man's unique talents even more. Those live shows were also a preview of his new songs. And they were most definitely an immediate hit with me. I think the biggest difference to me with Andrew Bird's new album is that this one is grander of style. The songs feel more epic and painted with grander brushstrokes, perhaps losing the gentle intimacy of "Eggs..." but delivering fuller, more impressive songs.

"Fiery Crash" is a warm, gentle start to this beautiful album. Its rhythmical beat is in contrast to the tale of impending doom. But this is typical of the album or his other work for that matter, beautiful lush sounds coupled with complex, often dark stories. Stories that are lyrically complex vignettes of life. There is also a supreme elegance to Mr Bird's work, his deeply resonant voice is combined with gorgeous instrumentation. Of course his violin is a soaring instrument of divinity and then you have his whistling, oh it knocks me out every time. Speaking of elegant, that is an apt description for "Imitosis", a reworking of "I". Honestly there is not a weak track on this album. But highlights for me include the back to back charmers "Plasticities and "Heretics", the slow burning epic "Armchairs", the ethereal instrumental "Yawny and the Apocalypse" and the jaunty "Scythian Empires". BUT there are 3 songs that will raise this record into greatness. "Dark Matter" comes out swinging and knocks you flat, a powerful song about the dark side of the mind. "Simple X" is all bleeps and bloops and eerie whistling, also seeming to be about how the mind can exist in various states according to your will. Then there is "Cataracts", quite simply I believe his most emotionally charged song he has written. Violins weep and the whistling will just break your heart. This song soars until it crumbles gently in your ears. Just a damn beautiful song. Trust me, buy this album, it is complex, mysterious, intelligent music that you will fall in love with.
MP3: Heretics
MP3: Simple X

Cataracts lyrics-
When our mouths are filled with uninvited tongues of others
And the strays are pining for their unrequited mothers
Milk that sours is promptly spat
Light will fill our eyes like cats

And they shall enter from the back
With spears and sceptres and squirming sacks
Scribs and tangles between their ears
Faceless scrumbled charcoal smears

Through the copice and the chaparral
The thickets thick with mold
The bracken and the briar
Catch weed into the fold

When our mouths are filled with uninvited tongues of others
And the strays are pining for their unrequited mothers
Milk that sours is promptly spat
Light will fill our eyes like cats
Light will fill our eyes like cats

Addendum (or what I'm feeling musically this year):
Amazing (makes me feel giddy with excitement upon every listen, close to perfection)-Do Make Say Think
Great (music of the highest order, every song has something to offer)-Arcade Fire, Explosions in the Sky, Menomena, Andrew Bird
Very Good (some great songs, very enjoyable, but just short of greatness)-The Besnard Lakes, Modest Mouse, Odawas, Eluvium, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Good (enjoyable, but not earth shattering)-The Shins, Woods
Need more listens to evaluate- Low, Mouthful of Bees
Disappointing (have tried and doesn't float my boat)-Bloc Party, Deerhoof, Of Montreal, LCD Soundsystem
Don't own (and unlikely to invest in, for various reasons)-Air, Apples in Stereo, !!!, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Kaiser Chiefs
Out Now (in process of procuring or will look to buy soon)-Panda Bear, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Elvis Perkins, Apostle of Hustle, Calla, The Ponys, Son Volt

Confirmed releases (within the next four months, looking forward to with much excitement)-Bright Eyes, Kings of Leon, Frog Eyes, Grails, Wilco, The National, Handsome Furs, Voxtrot, Interpol, The White Stripes, Spoon (its called Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga but I find this very hard to believe).
On the Horizon (later in 2007, but no details yet)- Final Fantasy, Band of Horses, Islands, The New Pornographers, Oakley Hall, Beirut, Animal Collective, Stars, Gillian Welch, Okkervil River, The Wrens, Wolf Parade (hold me down, need restraint).


  • At March 28, 2007 , Blogger Oz said...

    It definitely is a great album and will probably one of my albums of the year. Again I say I regret not going to his Basement show.

    On the new release front, I purchased New Buffalo's new album and have been enjoying it.

    Four releases I'm looking forward to that aren't on your list are the new Ryan Adams, new Radiohead, new Doves and new 1 Giant Leap.

  • At March 28, 2007 , Blogger Wayne said...

    I probably should have included Ryan Adams on my list. I have never gotten into Doves and I'm not sure about Radiohead, I didn't really like their last album so I'm not sure how their new album will play out. I meant to include Cloud Cult on my list, their new album has me excited.

  • At March 30, 2007 , Anonymous Ro said...

    I agree with 95% of ur '07 album summary but this,

    disappointing = Of Montreal?!

    I luv their newest release! Kevin Barnes takes u on his emotional journey but done so through the highly-emotive sensitivity only Kevin can have. What were you expecting from it? or why was is disappointing?

  • At March 31, 2007 , Blogger Wayne said...

    Ro, I shouldn't have said Of Montreal was disappointing. I actually have previously found their music hard to enjoy, too light and poppy for my tastes. The reviews were so great for their new record that I thought I would give it a chance. But it didn't do anything for me. I know he is bearing his soul, but I didn't think the lyrics were especially deep or anything. Just have to agree to disagree I guess. Compared to something like Menomena I believe their music is light years behind in depth and complexity.


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