Monday, October 29, 2007

The Rural Midwest Is A Real Sleeper

Andrew Bird and the band Dianogah have a free set of mp3s available from their Daytrotter session. (Be sure to also visit this link to download "The Giant of Illinois.")

Armchair Apocrypha's "Fiery Crash" gets a much-improved full-voiced treatment from Bird, along with a richer, fuller acoustic texture, even if it loses some of the propulsiveness of the original studio release. "Lull," from Weather Systems, still my all-time favorite of Bird's recordings, gets similarly drawn out, becoming "a little too laid-back," as Sylvia noted, but still astonishingly beautiful. Let's hope the promised re-take on the next album is more "Skin (Is My)" than "I"/"Imitosis."

The instrumental "A Breaks B" adds some much-needed energy, with Bird's frenetic violin helping tilt the sonic resonance from mid-period Tortoise to a less-electric Books. The sound recording on "Plasticities" is a little buzzy, but it still highlights that song's lovely, inspired introduction and verses, which gobble up the once-electric chorus. I wish Bird had rethought this section altogether rather than dropping the musical change outright. The guitar line in Armchair Apocrypha might be the dumbest riff ever, but this version, at over seven minutes long, is too samey and shapeless, even with Bird's fine multitracked solo at the end.

The song that will attract the most attention, though, is the delicate, slightly melancholy "The Giant of Illinois," a strong companion to Bird's "Don't Be Scared," penned by the same band. Go check it out.

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