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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Andrew Bird
Weather Systems
Grimsey

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Having lived in Chicago for four years and reaped the benefits of a magnificent rock and roll epicenter, I have learned to love two bands more than any others from the Windy City. The obvious choices for most would be The Sea & Cake, Wilco, Tortoise, those crazy Kinsella boys… and the list grows ever longer. But, in truth, my heart speaks most fondly for the insurgent country band The Blacks and Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire.

After sucking in every drop of his 2001 release, The Swimming Hour, and seeing him time after time on stage, playing his violin like a guitar and mixing the broadest range of beautiful caterwauling; a rush of affection comes at knowing this talented musician is still churning out excellent work.

Having converted an old barn into a provisional studio and home, he found clear inspiration in his surroundings, creating something subtle, rustic, and deeply natural. While Bowl of Fire members Kevin O'Donnell and the sweet-voiced Nora O'Connor do their part to support his next evolutional step, this is Bird's third release on his own, and as such is truly a credit to his name.

The beginning track is a musical version of Galway Kinnell's poem, "First Song." As a man enamored with perfect words, his choice of rich poetry is fittingly caressed by such dulcet handling. At the other end of the spectrum (and the disc), a bookend cover of The Handsome Family's "Don't Be Scared" shows he hasn't lost his sense of literate playfulness. He takes a collage of found pieces and adds his own lush instrumentalism, moving strings, and thorough history.

While the tracks between feature his own work, due to appear on a forthcoming project, each track is undoubtedly his own regardless of who penned it. "I" breaches a new sort of experimentalism for the musical admirer, creeping between atmosphere and ether in short staccato steps. "Lull" pours his love for slightly slanted, country-tinged adventurism into a tribute to his finely hushed voice. Even when speak-singing in low tones, his vocals are powerful and authentic, edifying a classic stance - he has the makings of timelessness and legend.

"Action/Adventure" plucks pointedly through soaring moods and elevated humor filtered through bizarre moans. "Skin" pits go-go beats against obvious orchestral proficiency (and whistling!) for a stunning combination. The title track embellishes on the preliminary sense of ominous romance suggested by the handpicked imagery and thematic bluster.

In all, the feel of Weather Systems is artistic, bold, and organic. Bird obviously embodies a passion for music's elasticity and range. What's more, for all of the love he puts in, he should get it in return, deserving reciprocal appreciation for such mastery.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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