Andrew Bird's abundant eccentricities can be daunting if you don't give his insidious cleverness ample time or latitude to seep in. He's used plenty of pop conceits in the past, along with enticing shards of everything from folk to rock and samba. There are even some on his latest tricky, often convoluted collection, Noble Beast, such as "Fitz and Dizzyspells," whose melodic drive has some affinity with prime Brian Wilson Beach Boys stuff, but also enough curious details casually whizzing through to warrant a doctoral dissertation. And that's one of the more straightforward tunes. Peeling through the meticulously crafted layers of Bird's songs demands patience. The reward is finding a richness of expression that ebbs and flows through a shape-shifting universe that could start out as chamber music (he's a classically trained violinist), teeter into Celtic-tinged Appalachian music, touch on folk-rock, skirt noirish jazz, and wind up somewhere akin to early Pink Floyd—yet it all makes some sort of sense. At the same time, he plays with language with the deft touch another Bird displayed on the basketball court, taking pleasure at concocting surrealistic images ("wild parsnips scar my lungs") and reveling in manipulating its sounds ("flailing fetal fleas, feeding from the arms of the master"). Anyway, Bird lives in Illinois but is practically a local, thanks to his close affiliation with a slew of musicians active in the Twin Cities, including Martin Dosh and Jeremy Ylvisaker, who regularly join this rare Bird's flights of fancy.
Sat., April 11, 8 p.m., 2009
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