March 29, 2011

A. Bird Flies Through Bailey

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On the evening of Thursday, March 31, indie pop sensation Andrew Bird will bring his wonderfully unique act to Cornell’s Bailey Hall. Known for his dreamy vocals, impressive whistling skills and classical music influences, Bird has solidified himself as one of indie pop’s most promising artists. Both fans and new listeners are likely to fall in love with Bird’s eclectic arrangements and songs that contain a wide range of musical influences, from folk to baroque. Based on Bird’s known spontaneity in his live shows, attendees can certainly expect the unexpected. With Bird’s multi-instrumental talents and inimitable sound, those attending the sold out show are sure to be in for quite a treat.

After separating from his folk band Bowl of Fire in 2003, Bird subsequently released five solo albums, each of which received positive critical reception. On his early solo work, Bird made a conscious effort to record and layer each instrument on his own rather than have a band. Bird himself exquisitely combined his signature violin with guitar, glockenspiel, whistling and soaring vocals to create the beautiful and distinct sound he is known for today. In 2002, Bird’s unique live act was introduced to the masses when he released Fingerlings, the first of three live compilations of the same name. Bird’s live performances are known to vary with each show; according to an interview with the BBC in 2009, Bird said that his goal was to “change the arrangement of the songs and mix up the set as much as possible.” While Bird was slowly gaining followers of his work early in his solo career, it was the second installment of Fingerlings, released in 2004, that earned him major critical acknowledgement. Pitchfork praised Bird’s music for “[possessing] a timeless quality that only a select few recordings ever manage.” Likewise, Alternative Press went so far as to claim Bird’s work to be “better than almost everything else.” In the years that followed, Bird continued to experience national commercial recognition, releasing more albums and appearing on shows such as Late Night with Conan O’Brien and participating in events such as the Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2006. Bird’s most recent album, Noble Beast, was released in 2009 and, once again, received unanimously positive reviews. Having released five critically successful solo albums and five equally memorable live albums, Bird has established himself as one of the most intriguing and prolific indie artists of his generation.

Few contemporary artists measure up to the array of unusual instruments that Bird has mastered and employs beautifully in each of his songs. From his stunning violin-playing abilities to his even more remarkable flair for whistling complex melodies, Bird’s instrumental talents are far more impressive than many musicians today could account for. Songs like “Oh No” and “Nomenclature,” both from his most recent album Noble Beast, not only showcase Bird’s instrumental proficiency, but also his inspiration from such varied genres as jazz, folk, and indie rock. Bird’s unconventional style has gained him acclaim not only from critics around the world, but also from his musical contemporaries; Bird has contributed his unique sound to the records of other artists, such as Neko Case and My Morning Jacket. More recently, Bird, along with other top indie acts such as Arcade Fire and The Decemberists, contributed original music to the compilation album Dark Was the Night, with the profits going to HIV/AIDS research. Bird’s most recent venture was a collaboration with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, to which he contributed vocals and violin.

Fans new and old can surely expect an unforgettable performance from Bird this Thursday. Given Bird’s reputation for exciting and one-of-a-kind sound and performances, his show at Bailey Hall on Thursday evening promises to be another memorable Cornell concert courtesy of the Cornell Concert Commission.

Original Author: Sydney Ramsden