I have to say that Andrew Bird's Noble Beast album has really got to me. The quite winning combination of violin, vocals and whistling really can't be beaten and combined with melodies that dig under your skin and sufficient wackiness to be charming but not irritating, means that this has been on heavy rotation of late.
Some apparently find his rather beautifully constructed lyrics a tad knowing but frankly its a joy to have some lyrics that both tell stories but also employ some out-of-the-mainstream words: for goodness sake just listen to some of the unutterable rubbish on the new U2 effort, I know which I would rather listen to.
There is something oddly timeless about Birds music, despite the unusual combinations, loops and noises; perhaps it is the use of older instruments - violins, semi-acoustics, glockenspiel, cor anglais etc that give a depth and richness to the sound. Of course it is a joy to hear someone able to whistle with accomplishment - a skill sadly lost to me - and the whole builds to a wondrous combination of folk, rock, traditional soundscape.
NPR have a great, full length concert from the 9.30 club in Washington that is available both to stream and get on podcast. Bird's ability to play several instruments, whistle, sing and control numerous loops etc means that he can play with only a couple of additional musicians yet accurately produce his full sound.
I have squirrelled away my tickets to see him when he reaches the Thekla in Bristol in May this year - by all accounts it should be a show woreth seeing..
Andrew Bird with Mucca Pazza - "Fitz & The Dizzyspells”
Andrew Bird Website
Andrew Bird Myspace