Noble Beast/Useless Creatures

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Christopher Monger
Released in 2007, Armchair Apocrypha proved that hyper-literate singer/songwriter, genre-bending violin player, and peerless whistler Andrew Bird had found the perfect middle ground between his increasingly austere solo sets and the full-band grandeur of his days with the Bowl of Fire, a strategy he repeats with similar results on Noble Beast, his fifth full-length solo offering and second collection for the Mississippi-based Fat Possum label. Bird, a classically trained violinist since the age of four, has skillfully integrated nearly everything with strings on it into his repertoire since his conversion from the Weill and Brecht-heavy days of Music of Hair, ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Christopher Monger
Released in 2007, Armchair Apocrypha proved that hyper-literate singer/songwriter, genre-bending violin player, and peerless whistler Andrew Bird had found the perfect middle ground between his increasingly austere solo sets and the full-band grandeur of his days with the Bowl of Fire, a strategy he repeats with similar results on Noble Beast, his fifth full-length solo offering and second collection for the Mississippi-based Fat Possum label. Bird, a classically trained violinist since the age of four, has skillfully integrated nearly everything with strings on it into his repertoire since his conversion from the Weill and Brecht-heavy days of Music of Hair, Thrills, and Oh! The Grandeur to the semi-mainstream indie pop of The Swimming Hour, but it's his seemingly limitless capacity for manipulation of the violin that dominates Noble Beast. Opening cut "Oh No," a track that Bird began releasing sketches of months before the album's street date, may be his most successful foray into the murky world of the potentially commercial pop song yet, boasting a chorus that points directly at the Shins while maintaining the artistic integrity of the loop-happy, meticulous craftsman who fans have been watching evolve since 2003's Weather Systems. What follows is a typically eclectic batch of material that reflect Bird's own musical time line. Tracks like "Masterswarm" and "Not a Robot, But a Ghost" are proof positive that he hasn't completely abandoned his swing jazz roots, "Fitz and the Dizzyspells" could very well provide audiences with their first opportunity to "bust a move" at a show, while "Nomenclature"'s easy country-folk front half dissolves into a rear end that wouldn't seem out of place on a late-'90s Radiohead album. Throughout it all Bird rhymes -- sometimes to a fault -- like a history or biology professor "From proto-Sanskrit Minoans to porto-centric Lisboans", rendering many of the songs clever as opposed to emotionally resonant, but whatever romance he lacks in the textual medium he more than makes up for in melody. [The deluxe version of the album includes an impressive bonus disc of instrumental works, cleverly titled Useless Creatures, which features collaborations with Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche and jazz bassist Todd Sickafoose.]
New York Times Magazine - Jonathan Mahler
Andrew Bird’s approach to songwriting is...intuitive and impressionistic. Often, a word or phrase will catch his eye for no apparent reason. Or he might hear a sound — the creaking of a door, the wailing of an infant — or experience a feeling that he’ll want to match to words. He is more interested in how the words in his lyrics sound, in the mood they create and sense they relate, than in their literal meaning....Bird’s ambitions and talents can send him in a lot of different directions. His last album, “Armchair Apocrypha,” is sprawling, “erratic and ecstatic,” as Bird puts it. On “Noble Beast,” he worked hard not to let himself get carried away, to keep his songs as simple and direct as possible. He wanted the record to be characterized not by the countless peaks and valleys of his live perform­ances but by a single, unifying palette. Having spent much of his career deliberately avoiding repetition, Bird cautiously embraced it on “Noble Beast.” The result is a focused record with a couple of genuinely catchy pop songs.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/20/2009
  • Label: Fat Possum Records
  • UPC: 767981112497
  • Catalog Number: 1124
  • Sales rank: 94,397

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Oh No (4:20)
  2. 2 Masterswarm (6:35)
  3. 3 Fitz and the Dizzyspells (3:36)
  4. 4 Effigy (5:06)
  5. 5 Tenuousness (3:51)
  6. 6 Nomenclature (2:54)
  7. 7 Ouo (0:20)
  8. 8 Not a Robot, But a Ghost (5:37)
  9. 9 Unfolding Fans (0:57)
  10. 10 Anonanimal (4:47)
  11. 11 Natural Disaster (4:18)
  12. 12 The Privateers (3:24)
  13. 13 Souverian (7:18)
  14. 14 On Ho (1:08)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Master Sigh (2:16)
  2. 2 You Woke Me Up! (7:24)
  3. 3 Nyatiti (4:01)
  4. 4 The Barn Tapes (10:12)
  5. 5 Carrion Suite (9:39)
  6. 6 Spinney (0:45)
  7. 7 Dissent (3:54)
  8. 8 Hot Math (7:18)
  9. 9 Sigh Master (5:32)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Andrew Bird Primary Artist, Guitar, Violin, Vocals, Human Whistle
Kelly Hogan Background Vocals
Mike Lewis Clarinet
Tony Crow Juno
Glenn Kotche Percussion
Jeremy Ylvisaker Organ, Bass, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Shortwave Radio
Todd Sickafoose Double Bass
Martin Dosh Percussion, Keyboards, Loops
Emil Svanängen Flute, Background Vocals
Andreas Werliin Drums
Mike Lewis Clarinet
David Lindvall Bass, Bass Guitar
Emil Savangen Flute, Background Vocals
Technical Credits
Mark Greenberg Engineer
Tom Herbers Engineer
Mark Nevers Engineer
Andrew Bird Arranger, Composer, Producer, Engineer, Audio Production
Jeremy Ylvisaker Composer
David Boucher Engineer
Jeff Lipton Mastering, Remastering
Traditional Composer
Martin Dosh Composer
Dan Dietrich Engineer
Andreas Werliin Engineer
David Lindvall Engineer
Diana Sudyka Illustrations
Maria Rice Remastering
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