New Music 3/22/19: Andrew Bird

Hot off the presses: new music!  Better said, new music that is worth your time.

Bird

Andrew Bird – My Finest Work Yet – 10 tracks / 46 minutes

Let me be as clear as I can possibly be: listen to this record.  Right.  Now.

 

The tale of Sisyphus is one well known to all students of Greek mythology – as a punishment for his free-thinking ways, the man was forced to perpetually roll a huge boulder up a hill, just to see it fall back down.  Andrew makes this fable his muse for the incredibly catchy and downright fucking gorgeous leadoff song on his unapologetically incredible 17th studio album.  The balls it takes to name a recording My Finest Work Yet!  Somehow, the man has delivered.

Those lucky enough to already be familiar with this unique and uber-talented songwriter (singer, violinist, and world-class whistler) will find similar sounds here, but may agree that he has never released something so consistently stellar.  Anyone coming in late to the game should enjoy this work and then peruse his back catalogue (I recommend starting with Things Are Really Great Here, Sort of… or Are You Serious).  I had the good fortune to see him perform in Seattle last summer and can attest that there is no studio magic at play here – the man’s ability to play a violin is legit and his whistle is otherworldly and exquisite.

Oh, and the second track is perhaps the finest song I have heard so far this year – “Bloodless” has so many quotable lines that I would just type up the lyrics if that wouldn’t get me into legal trouble.  Parallels to our current American situation against backdrops of history and advisement of doing your best to stay the course and be righteous amid the chaos culminate with this fantastic chorus: “Don’t you worry about the wicked, don’t you envy those who do wrong; and your innocence will be like the dawn while the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun”.  All of this quirky and smart songwriting is sung over music that is so pretty it is beyond my words.

“Olympians” dissects the martyrdom that relationships can breed, and makes four minutes disappear so fast my head spins.  Brooding piano and promises of truth carry “Cracking Codes” to its lovely violin ending.  The Donald in Chief is never named, but is clearly alluded to several times throughout this album, including on “Fallorun”(the most rock-esque track found here) with this gem: “think it’s just an aberration, it could not happen here; such an abomination, could be the Man of the Year”.  “Manifest” is my dark horse for best diamond in the rough on the album… “she’s obliged to no one”, folks.

Before I end up writing four pages about one album, let me wrap this up.  This doesn’t rock, and while you can dance to it, that is not what it is intended to do.  No, this is music to think to, to open your mind to – to live to.  Beauty should be appreciated, and that is what we have here.  Enjoy, my dear friends.  Enjoy Mr. Bird’s Finest Work Yet.

Key Tracks: “Bloodless”, “Sisyphus”, “Manifest”

Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/2xQ1WHVV0MdVSRkpND5P51?si=MxP2RkCNSA2Iqn3IrNM8nQ

My “Best of Andrew Bird” Spotify playlist link:

https://open.spotify/user/1217400912/playlist/2Qm0zmW5Ag2mEfeKa1HWer?si=aY2GqCpORL2I-RWCEzhNHg

 

Also heard:

Flora Cash – Press (EP)

While driving around in the Emerald City last weekend in Mom’s car (somehow from this century and with a stereo lacking auxiliary input or Bluetooth capability), it was 107.7 The End all the time.  Don’t get me wrong; as far as terrestrial radio goes, that is a fine station, but it makes for a long drive.  You can only play “what year did this song get released?” for so long.

However, this beautiful little earworm I hadn’t heard came on and Mom was like “you don’t know this song, its great”.  She was right (thanks Mom) – the song is Flora Cash’s “You’re Somebody Else” and is featured on this EP.  I choose to find it refreshing, as opposed to humiliating, that the hippest person in the car in that scenario is Mom.

American Football – American Football (LP3)

The emo pioneers from Illinois are back with more atmospheric anthems – this time with improved songwriting and more going on musically.  The album also features a few guest vocalists, and while these songs are pretty strong and represent their best collection yet, it still just doesn’t do it for me.  If you enjoyed either of their first two records, you will most likely find plenty to enjoy here.

Jenny Lewis – On the Line

Don’t judge a record by its cover…

Bad Suns – Mystic Truth

Power-pop at their best, boring at their worst – check “Away We Go” for the former, and most of this record for the latter.

Bill MacKay – Fountain Fire

The instrumental “Pre-California” is a fun listen, and highlight of an otherwise so-so effort.