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Noble Beast

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Editors’ Notes

Beginning with a skipping step, enthusiastic whistling and playful backing vocals that suggest a leisurely walk in the park, "Oh No" introduces Noble Beast with a festive air that allows this violin-wielding Chicago singer-songwriter to explore his pop side. This extra lift in his step remains throughout. While his influences are steeped in various unrelated traditions that tend towards the darker corners — from jazz to folk to German drinking songs, you name it — Bird mixes and matches as he hears fit with an ebullient grace. The six-and-a-half-minute "Masterswarm" is a bucolic swath of mystery, flowing onward with a stream-like consciousness, reminiscent of the loose and free cadences of Van Morrison and Tim Buckley. "Fitz and the Dizzyspells" pulls up with a tough, decisive rhythm section that yields to Bird's sublime melodic musings. Each track offers up a diverse collection of thoughts and impressions. The sad Spanish guitar that drives "Effigy," the strains of film noir that lace "Nomenclature," the haunting early-'70s folk of "Unfolding Fans," all come together without a feeling of forced eclecticism but as a focused, united musical front.

Customer Reviews

Anomalous Appendages of a Noble Beast

During the making of Noble Beast, Andrew Bird had the following to say about what he wanted to do with this record. “The record I want to make here and now — the one I wish I could find in my local record store — is a gentle, lulling, polyrhythmic, minimalist yet warm tapestry of acoustic instruments. No solos, just interlocking parts. ” Well, in each respect, he’s succeeded. Each song has something special to recommend it, but thanks to expert production and timing, the whole flows like an hour-long symphony in anywhere from 14 to 20 movements. After listening for a just couple of weeks, it might be premature to call this a classic, but this is not a record I’m going to get tired of any time soon. Highlights for me were “Fits & Dizzyspells,” “Effigy,” “Not A Robot, But A Ghost,” and “Anonanimal,” but as I said, each song has something to recommend it. “Oh No” has uplifting harmony paired with bleak lyrics about sociopaths, “Not A Robot” has claustrophobic compressed guitar riffs and a nervously ticking rhythm, and “Souverian” evokes the lazy spring/summer day pictured on the album cover. Speaking of the cover, the artwork is beautiful and extensive, and along with the lyrics, probably worth the extra few dollars to get a physical copy. However, if you’re buying on iTunes and aren’t quite sure yet, my advice would be to start with Oh No, Fits & Dizzyspells, or Anonanimal, and see how you feel after that. With Noble Beast, Andrew Bird has crafted yet another album that sounds like little else, even his previous albums. This album relies much more on the acoustic guitar than his previous work. The music is centered somewhere in the meeting place of Folk, Pop, and Rock, but branches out to embrace West African polyrhythms, early 20th century blues, and latter-day classical music, to name just a few. It sounds so natural that it brings one to ask “Why hasn’t this been done before?” Well, I have no idea why, but I sure am glad it’s here now.

Great Stuff

Just downloaded it. This album is stellar; it gets you right off the bat with Oh No, a classic Andrew Bird-sounding song. The rest of the songs slide in with ease. The album simultaneously is able to be completely laid back, while at that same time engages you completely on all levels. The album seems to go back to basics, as in simpler music and easy melodies, but it also is completely on the edge. Andrew is on his A-game; he manages to blow you away without even trying. Buy this album now!!! Absolutely fantastic.


Somehow, Bird manages to create another fantastic album. It would be reasonable to expect a let down after "Mysterious Production" and "Armchair".....but, it hasn't happened yet.


Born: July 11, 1973 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Chicago singer/songwriter/violinist Andrew Bird updates the traditions of small-group swing, German lieder, and New Orleans jazz, mixing Gypsy, folk, and rock elements into his distinctive style. Bird's projects include his group the Bowl of Fire (which also includes drummer Kevin O'Donnell, bassist Josh Hirsch, and guitarist Colin Bunn) and performing as an auxiliary member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers; in turn, the Zippers' Katharine Whalen and James Mathus appeared on the Bowl of Fire albums Thrills...
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Noble Beast, Andrew Bird
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