steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Andrew Bird

"Weather Systems" CD

Righteous Babe Records

Genres: singer / songwriter, folk-rock

Righteous Babe
P. O. Box 95, Ellicott Station, Buffalo, NY 14205-0095

May 10 - 16 2004

Andrew Bird, whose discography includes a number of Rykodisc albums and countless appearances as violinist and fiddler on other people's records, switched on to Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe label for this new release.  And if you think the cover looks nice, you'll be pleased to discover how beautiful the music itself is.

Weather Systems is truly a wonderful release.  Though it may be somewhat brief, this disc - and its eight addictively whimsical tunes - makes for great repeated listening.  Bird's Rufus Wainwright-esque vocals are refreshing and somewhat folky, while his luxurious, violin-led arrangements are simply monumental.  In the sense of its epic, almost orchestral structure, Weather Systems has a similar sound to Badly Drawn Boy's About a Boy soundtrack - though it's considerably better.

Andrew Bird starts his disc off with the suitably playful (and almost coy) "First Song," a cute folk-pop number marked by jumpy acoustic guitar and a fantastic whistling part.  On "Lull" the listener is confronted by an infectious melody and some pretty violin-and-guitar interplay - it wouldn't feel out of place on a Wainwright album, though I'm not complaining.  The title-track, meanwhile, is the disc's nearly seven minute epic; though a tad convoluted, it's still a moving, original work of singer/songwriter-esque pop.

I am extremely impressed by Weather Systems, which could go down as Andrew Bird's best album yet.  These elegant, powerfully infectious tunes should appeal to pretty much anyone who gets an earful.  You won't want to miss out.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 9 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2003]