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Violinist Andrew Bird earned well-deserved acclaim for his 1998 debut CD, Thrills, and its cabaret-meets-hot-jazz energy. Oh! The Grandeur is the much-anticipated follow-up and is every bit as quirky and darkly perfect. It's got Bird's astringent fiddle cutting a wide swath through Colin Bunn's riff-strummed and breezy cool guitar and the clomping rhythms of Josh Hirsch's bass and Kevin O'Donnell's drums. And it's got Bird's round-edged voice rolling over lyrics that are alternately moody and slaphappy. The music is clearly indebted to the hot club jazz that's been built on the duo of Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt, but it also owes props to Kurt Weill and even Bob Wills. Bird might not ever make the morning talk show circuit in the U.S. (unlike his former band, Squirrel Nut Zippers), but he's got a lock on taking a wealth of American traditions and rolling them into an odd, endearing whole. --Andrew Bartlett
Top Customer Reviews
I came to Mr. Bird when I discovered that he played violin on SqrlNtZprs albums. I wanted more SNZ, loved the directions they pursued with 'Perennial Favorites' but didn't care at all for 'Bedlam Ballroom.' The production, I felt was all wrong and stood in the way of any judments I could make concerning the album. It sounded slick, polished- and I couldn't stand that. So I tracked down some solo releases by individual members of the Zippers and ended up with the pleasure of Mr. Bird's music. When I first got this CD it didn't leave my CD player for a week and a half, which is rare, as I'm an impatient, moody, feckless, hard to please music aficianado...
Genre-wise this is all over the place, certainly not jazz or swing (not entirely at least, though by grounding himself in the music of a bygone era, Mr. Bird invokes a moody, theatrical vibe that stays with you). All the players know their place and everyone works tightly to maintain the overall ambience of the album. The mood, I feel is equal parts Kurt Weill, Tom Waits and something that is Mr. Bird's own entirely. His voice is on the good side of competent with a (fake?) slight accent and the perfect diction of singers from the 30's. In my head I imagine him looking like the singer from 'The Hudsucker Proxy,' from the scnene where all the women fawn over him (yeah, I know it takes place in the fifties which is the wrong time period, but still...).Read more ›
Oh! The Grandeur! Andrew Bird is one of the greatest non sequiturs of my time. If this man lived in the 40s or 50s, I think he'd be considered one of the greatest song writers ever. He would have fit right in with Django Reinhardt or Irving Berlin, but at least he found the Squirrel Nut Zippers in his generation. He got his start with the Zippers, playing with them live for the first time in New Orleans, then staying on tour with them for the remainder of the year. Although this album strays a bit from the cherry poppin' verve of the Zippers, it's still fantastic in its own right. Some songs are just laughably lamentable. I don't know if these tracks are meant to be serious or what, but they come off as quite lugubrious, yet still thoroughly enjoyable. Other songs like Tea & Thorazine and Coney Island Shuffle are zestful cavalcades of swings, quips and thrills. My favorite song on here is the awesome closer, Drinking Song. If you're in the mood for a very different, very fun album, try this out.
The use of violin and vocals on this album is positively brilliant. There is a jazzy sound which permeates every song.
Included with the CD is a small booklet (measuring 2.5"x1.5") which includes "testimonials, explanatory text, sing along lyric sheets, with illustrations, supplied as a complementary amusement." It boasts being, "an assortment of new songs, intermezzi, two-steps, and waltzes by the popular musical group, Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire." And so it is!
There are two reasons you should buy this album. The first is that it is probably unlike any you already have in your collection. The second is that it is DAMN GOOD!
Most recent customer reviews
reccomded for fans of the nut zippers, cowboy junkies, tom waits and all other sweet muisc from all over the place. folksy and brilliant!Published on June 2 2004 by ida amstel
When I talk about Andrew Bird I rarely end up making any sense at all. The reason for this is that Andrew Bird is so good that I can't put my thoughts into words. Read morePublished on April 4 2001 by Aaron
Andrew Bird has delivered. Swirling melodies and violin riffs you can taste. I have been a fan of the "Zippers" for many years, but "Bowl of Fire's" new album... Read morePublished on Feb. 2 2000 by Darren Toth
If only there was more music like this! I can't think of anything I'd rather listen to than Andrew Bird. Some of the most interesting music I've ever heard. Read morePublished on Jan. 19 2000 by Eric M Thompson
Andrew Bird's violin gives a new dimension (generally a dark one) to 30's/40's era swing music. He also knows how to turn a phrase in unexpected ways. Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2000 by Alf Kremer
Another beautiful album by the Bowl of Fire. Lyrically and musically unique, Bird and Co. continue to shine on Oh! The Grandeur. Read morePublished on Dec 5 1999
This is a great secound album! If you never heard of the first "thrills", you dont know what your missing! The guitar is strong and the violin is what sets them apart! Read morePublished on Oct. 31 1999
Andrew Bird has a true gem in store for the listener in "Oh! the Grandeur." Many variations and styles are encorporated to produce a sound that is nothing shy of unique,... Read morePublished on Oct. 4 1999