On Pins and Hot Sand

The last time I saw Fever Fever, it was 3AM, the waning hours of Canadian Music Week and the end of a long day including a wake for the White Stripes and more coffee than should ever be consumed by any reasonable human being. And though I’ve been pretty much useless since I left them in the narrow cramped corridor backstage at Toronto’s Rivoli nightclub, with major festival appearances on both sides of the Atlantic and a new album in the works, the band have been anything but. I said a while back that I was really excited about some stuff coming up on new Norwich label Gravy Records – well, this is what I was talking about.

‘Pins’ is the first proper single to be lifted from the Fever Fever’s upcoming album and, like the free single (‘Teeth’) released earlier in the summer, finds sees band in the studio with producer Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey; Anna Calvi). It’s a formula that seems to be working, because ‘Pins’ finds the Norwich trio in top form. It’s the sharpest thing we’ve heard since ‘Monster’ broke out and bashed our faces in 18 months ago. Have a listen and maybe you’ll begin to understand why I ran halfway across downtown Toronto at 2AM to hear them. Just be careful you don’t hurt yourself.

‘Pins’ is available as a digital download and a (very) limited screen printed CD single.

Speaking of big things from tiny labels, Hollows (from my old home, Chicago) have put out a couple of domestic releases – a 7-inch on Trouble In Mind and an LP on Addenda (good luck getting your hands on that one) – but now they’ve taken their organ-driven pseudo surf across the pond to Soft Power Records (indiepop offshoot of online record shop Soft Power UK). Now the kids at Soft Power have been making a valiant go at it since the label launched about a year ago, but imagine my surprise last week when I learned they had managed to release a single by one of my favourite bands from here in the good old Midwest without me noticing.

However it happened, I’m glad it did. They’re an ideal pairing (this from a guy who’s spent the last week caught in a C86 vortex). The recent disintegration of The Like has left a gaping hole in the 60s girl group sound. They’re some pretty big shoes to fill, but, for my money, Hollows are the band to do it. And with another dark December looming ahead of us, the summery sounds of Hollows are just what we all need to keep us warm through those grey Scotland days and frigid Chicago nights (not to mention, ‘Hot Sand’ is the perfect soundtrack for that ironic midwinter beach party I know you’re all planning).

The single, ‘Hot Sand’ b/w ‘Shapeshifter’ (limited to 300 copies) is available from a handful of retailers, including Soft Power UK (naturally).


A Sinister take on Hardware

Another Halloween and my pitch-perfect J Alfred Prufrock costume still hangs in the closet gathering dust. One of these days, I swear, someone will finally invite me to that esoteric modernist literature-themed costume party that simply must exist somewhere in the folds of civilized society—but, as it stands, this year is looking like another night indiscriminately hurling candy at strange children and ensuring full holiday bookings for all local practitioners of dentistry.

But, to get things started, how about a little Halloween double-feature, beginning with the latest video from Birdeatsbaby. We brought you the first single from the new album back in August and now they’re back with the second (the title track) “Feast of Hammers”. Of course, if you’re already familiar with these Birdies, you know they’re music is always streaked with a dash of the macabre. But with the video for ‘Feast of Hammers’, they’ve really outdone themselves—so much so, in fact, that they’ve produced a censored version of the video. And, out of respect for those readers who may be somewhat prone to squeamishness, I’ll only include the PG-13 version in this post. You can watch the explicit version here. All I can say is, Lars Von Trier would be proud.

Then there’s our old friends from Chicago, The Cell Phones who’ve always had a flare for the darker side of life. They’ve got their own Occultish Halloween epic making the rounds. The only thing missing here is an altar of naked virgins. And, if that’s not enough, they’ve also done a 27-minute haunted house soundtrack (which you can find here) and a brand new EP (Hospital Spaceship) which includes the gruesome, Phil-Spector-does-in-the-Ronettes closer, ‘Husband’.

Still not enough for you? Well, out today, just in time for Halloween, is a free bit of dingy foreboding from Norwich breakcore artist Sukoshi. From exciting new Norwich label Gravy Records, ‘Claw Hammer’ is but a taster of things to come from Sukoshi’s imminent debut on the same label, due in February. In fact, there’s plenty of exciting stuff to look forward to from Gravy HQ, but that’s another story for another day. With his spoken-word samples and dark and dirty, sinister embellishments, it’s easy to imagine Sukoshi as the evil twin of Mr. PSB himself, J. Willgoose Esq. It’s no wonder, then, that Rob Da Bank is such a fan.

Looking Ahead: Bands to Watch in 2011 (part 2)

If you missed part one, ’tis here.

Allo Darlin’ (London, UK)

Following a string of well-loved singles with an album that has proven to be a favorite of indie pop fans across the world, Allo Darlin’ have been winning hearts everywhere they go, all the while making ukulele-fronted pop bands sexy again. The future is looking bright for Elizabeth Morris and company, especially with the backing of a stellar label like FortunaPop who hit it big in 2009 with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Don’t be surprised to see a similar surge for Allo Darlin’ in the coming year. And if you haven’t bought their album yet, you really ought to give it a go.

The Lighthouse and the Whaler (Cleveland, Ohio)

These lads from Cleveland spent considerable time building a following all over the eastern half of the US before making their debut in the state capitol with The Black Atlantic back in October to a Wednesday evening record store audience who instantly fell for their own brand of what you might call melodic prog-folk. And after watching them return to town just a month later and absolutely killing at their first proper Columbus headline gig to a captive audience at Rumba Cafe, it’s pretty clear that TLATW are a band that have to be seen to be believed. Luckily, their debut LP is an equally solid performance. So download ‘White Days’ for free here, then go out and buy the rest of it. And if you can, catch them live. They’ll be at SXSW and numerous other places, no doubt, as their stock continues to rise.

Download: The Lighthouse and the Whaler – ‘White Days’ [mp3]

My Gold Mask (Chicago, Illinois)

I first heard that My Gold Mask were one of the most exciting bands in Chicago from a sound engineer who I met after he caught me interviewing Emilie Simon at a Starbucks on the North Side. About a year later, an article in the Sun-Times named them among a list of Chicago bands on the verge of blowing up. I have to say, I think they’re right. In 2010, the band released two super-sexy EPs and landed some major support slots, including a few shows with the New Pornographers. Check out the EPs on Bandcamp where you can also download (for free) the remix of ‘Bitches’ by the fabled Hood Internet. And, of course, catch them on tour this spring.

Dimbleby & Capper (London, UK)

Dimbleby & Capper

It seems like I talk about Dimbleby & Capper all the time and, for the most part, it’s true. But I can’t help myself. Since we were first introduced in March of last year, Laura Bettinson has been busy taking D&C from a one woman band to a full-fledged DIY brand with it’s own unique aesthetic. The first single for Tape Records is projected to be released 31 March, hopefully with a full length LP will be in production in the not-too-terribly-distant future. Oh, and did I mention that Laura also happens to be working on a project with producer Nigel Godrich (producer for Radiohead)?

Islet (Cardiff, UK)

You’d be hard-pressed to find any official information about Islet anywhere on the internets, and that is because, antithetical to yours truly, they do not exist online. Anywhere. But they’ve building an enthusiastic following based solely on their near-legendary local live shows around the small but wicked-talented Cardiff scene, selling out of their first album and no doubt approaching capacity on the second (the first purchase I made on my first ever visit to Wales). And honestly, with a reputation like that, who needs a website? Grab one of their records while you can. You’ll be hearing from them again. (And again. And again . . .)

The Cell Phones: First band on the moon?

I rarely venture out in public on Valentine’s day. This past February, however, I did manage to get myself to the Beat Kitchen in Chicago to see a band that never showed up. (For the record, they had a very reasonable excuse.) But any potential for disappointment was quickly quelled as The Cell Phones took the stage.

Only a three-piece (drums, bass, and vocals), what The Cell Phones lack in numbers, they make up for in technique and sheer power. Ryan Szeszycki’s bass playing is so intricate that it has the sonic impact of at least three musicians. And, when it’s paired with Justin Purcell’s drums, who needs a guitarist? Then there is vocalist Lindsey Charles, whose onstage persona belies any small club, vaulting any performance well beyond epic to nearly legendary status. Despite the understandably anemic Valentine’s night crowd, the Cell Phones’ performance would have been perfectly suited for any arena show.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the Cell Phones won a city-wide battle of the bands in 2009 (hosted by Down Beat Studios and The Elbo Room). The Cell Phones are a band set to take off. At this point, it’s only a question of time and opportunity. And, should they ever achieve their goal of playing on the moon—well—let’s just say, I’d make the trip.

Draygo’s Guilt-y of exploring New Canyons with Lars Ludvig Löfgren

Lars Ludvig LofgrenI’m falling behind on—well—just about everything these days. I’ve got months worth of music to review and not enough time to post them, so I am going to be crazy efficient today one band from each of the three largest exporters of music in the world. If, at any point, you feel you’re falling behind, feel free to stop, backtrack, and read again. I’ll wait.

Draygo’s Guilt, Great Britain – If you’re unfortunate enough to be mired in the dankness of American college radio, you’ve no doubt noticed the oppressive stranglehold the new Seattle scene has on indiekids nationwide—everyone wants to be Fleet Foxes and Fleet Foxes want to tucked up in a mountain pass somewhere with their beards and their ostinatos and their echoing voices (oices-ices-ces-es-s-…). So, in a time when everyone seems to be unplugging their amps, it is impossible to overstate the welcome sound of anyone willing to turn theirs up to eleven—and when that band is good at what they do, the results can be ravishing. Draygo’s Guilt are very good at what they do. When I was first introduced to them, the music was described to me as The Doors meets Joy Division. Personally, I would throw The Animals in their as well (and not just because “House” is a version of “House of the Rising Sun” that captures all the energy and passion of the classic recording but with better vocals). The single, “Pulse” is bluesy fuzzpop with a hook to die for and a groove to match. You can head over to MySpace to hear a handful of tracks or download the entire album, Trust Me…, from draygosguilt.com (hint: free music is good).

Lars Ludvig Löfgren, Sweden – From Swedish DIY label Häleri comes the debut album from Lars Ludvig Löfgren, Heterochromia. I will admit that, at first listen, Heterochromia comes off as a pretty decent pop record. It’s not until a few hours (or even days) later that the music really begins to take full effect. But once the high-powered sixties-laden pop has seeped into your brain, there really is no hope of ever separating yourself from it. You can stream the whole album as well as download a couple of the singles for free on Lars’ Bandcamp page. I’ve been listening to it as I’ve been writing this, which has made the writing process rather laborious because all I can think is holy crap, this is brilliant. So, please, excuse my uncharacteristic lack of eloquence and varied vocabulary. A couple of months ago, I was chatting with Geert from The Black Atlantic about this album (at least I think that’s who I was talking to) and he said that he reckons Heterochromia is one of the best albums of 2009. In retrospect, I think I agree with him.

New Canyons, USA – I met Adam Stilson of New Canyons at a Starbucks in Chicago back in October. It was on the same night, in the same Starbucks where I interviewed Emilie Simon (still one of the top 5 highlights of my life, by the way). No, it wasn’t quite so serendipitous as it sounds. Adam was working the show that night, and we got to talking after exchanging a couple of those awkward “don’t I recognise you from somewhere?” looks. After a few minutes of chatting about how sweet Emilie is and why she would ever take the time to talk to a loser like me, he mentioned his band New Canyons, and I am glad he did. New Canyons are another one of those bands deeply ingrained in the 80s revival, owing a great deal to both shoegaze and new wave, with lots of synths and drum machine and a touch of ambient noise. Listening to New Canyons is like 1983 all over again, but in good way, kind of like it would be if MTV decided to show music videos again.

Emilie Simon in Chicago: the complete abridged interview transcript

Photo by: Elizabeth Sentianin , Sculpture by: artzura.com
Photo by: Elizabeth Sentianin , Sculpture by: artzura.com

Here it is. Finally. The (abridged) transcript of last month’s interview with Emilie Simon. Emilie is off touring Europe right now, so here in the States, we probably won’t be hearing anything from her for a while. In the meantime, you will just have to read this and get all excited for the eventual American release of her latest album: The Big Machine. If you live in Europe, you can already buy the album (or, at least you can in France). You can also catch Emilie on tour, which you ought to do, because it is a life-altering experience. You can read the complete (almost) interview here.

The Indie Handbook: First of all, let me say that it is such a pleasure to meet you. Have you ever been to Chicago before?

Emilie Simon: No, this is my first time to even leave the club, so I will discover it with you.

TIH: So you’ve been living in New York for a while, right?

ES: Yeah, it’s been almost two years now.

TIH: What made you pack up and come over here?

ES: At the beginning, I just came for vacation and I enjoyed it, so I decided to stay longer. And I ended up moving here. I think it was just the right timing for me. I was between two albums, so I finished my tour and came here.

TIH: How long do you think you’ll stay.

ES: I have no idea. I didn’t plan it, I don’t plan ahead. I plan what I have to plan, like if I have a tour. I know I am going to be touring pretty much all of 2010. But you never really know what’s going to be happening in your life.

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Emilie Simon gets the Big Machine up and running

Emilie Simon at BerlinI followed her for years – not in a creepy stalker way, but the way any true fan tracks the career of an artist he or she admires – spending countless hours in dusty independent and secondhand record shops near university campuses and enlisting the help of friends and family in Europe to track down a catalogue of records that you just can’t get here. It was all very calculated and deliberate. Meeting her, on the other hand, was (almost entirely) an accident.

It was on one of these prospecting expeditions (in search of a release date for her latest album, The Big Machine) that I caught a glimpse of Emilie Simon‘s tour schedule. Noticing almost immediately that the next show was scheduled to be in Chicago, I, without thinking, sent off a message to (literally) the only American contact I could find and several hours and half a dozen emails later, we had plans to sit down for a cup of tea after soundcheck.

As I approached Berlin Nightclub and heard the sound of “Opium” emanating from behind the swinging doors, I had no idea what to expect. I am not exactly a veteran of the club scene and I had never even heard most of the songs on the album she was touring, but walked in, trying as best I could to look like I knew what I was doing. What I found: half a dozen people prepping and decorating for the party that night, Elizabeth (my contact), and Emilie on a small stage in the middle of the room surrounded by machines and a keyboard. I stood and listened as she finished her soundcheck, attempting to recover the carefully planned talking points that had fled my memory the moment I came into the presence of my all-time musical idol. How do you cover such an impressive body of work in 20 minutes? You don’t, but the attempt became markedly easier when I discovered that we have a great deal more in common than I ever thought I would with anyone I consider a true genius.

Her first two albums (Emilie Simon and Végétal) and her soundtrack for the French version of March of the Penguins, included some of the most intricate textures I have ever encountered in the course of a four-minute “pop” song. The Big Machine is different, though. You could think of it as the first of her “American” works the way you might “Dvořák’s “New World” symphony. After all, she’s been living in New York for almost two years now.

“At the beginning, I just came for vacation and I enjoyed it, so I decided to stay longer. And I ended up moving here. I think it was just the right timing for me. I was between two albums, so I finished my tour and came here,” she says. And any such dramatic change is bound to make an impression: “I don’t know why, but there is something very intense and creative about New York with all of the artists…but something very noticeable to me when I was in New York was that it was full of a lot of energy…. I don’t want to say that it’s more energy or something, it’s just different and because you are not used to it, it is very noticeable, so it’s really inspiring.” It’s that spirit of change that was such a factor in the new sound heard on The Big Machine.

“I think I had a way of doing things from the first album….I was sort of building the basics. For the album after that, I feel like it was a little bit the same way of working: that I was experimenting and still building and I needed to change – to try something else…because…there is a point where you know that you are totally capable to do that again and again and there is no point in doing that again and again.” And so, the IRCAM alumna and winner of three Victoires de la Musique set out to reinvent herself. “I thought, I am going to stop writing on the computer first and see what instruments I need the most for writing songs and it’s been the keyboard, so…for a long time I was writing without a computer, without programming and everything, just working on the composition itself, the song and its structure.”

As a result, her vocals, once set back within the instrumental texture of her songs, have been moved into the foreground, featuring more prominently than ever before. “The other albums are more…like: I have my studio; I can spend a lot of time programming details and the vocals become a part of the instrumentation and are in balance with the other elements. This one was more about the energy and this kind of urgency of writing…. I was moving every week; I had a keyboard and that’s all…It was more of a raw energy, so the vocals took a lot of space because I needed to express myself and I didn’t have all the sounds.”

But such “urgency of writing” is the nature of an album conceived almost entirely in a live setting. After a short set at the Roxy in L.A. where she played several of the new songs for the first time, Emilie embarked on a five-week residency at The Cutting Room in New York. “At the Cutting Room… I was adding a new song every week. So every week I had to finish the programming of a new song and make it ready to be played.” That live atmosphere was maintained throughout the recording process as Emilie “decided to keep [the] energy of experimenting on stage and find [her] band and record”. And she seems happy with the results, assuring me that “everything was like it was meant to be like this”.

Still, someone so involved in the intricacies of composing, as Emilie is, does not relinquish control easily: “at the beginning, I thought maybe I’m going to find the right producer for this album and ask somebody else to produce it…but I didn’t find this perfect person that I can trust so much more than I can trust myself…. And because I produce all my own albums now, I really know what I like, what I don’t like, and trusting somebody else – it has to be amazing, and I trusted and I worked [on] this album with really amazing people and I opened a lot,..but I still kept being the producer of the album because I know where I want to go…I was more like the captain, but the crew was amazing”.

That amazing crew included Kelly Pratt and Jeremy Gara (both of Arcade Fire) and John Natchez (Beirut) as well as sound engineer Mark Plati (David Bowie, Alain Bashung) and Renaud Létang (Feist, Gonzalez…) who mixed the album. The result is an album that “is very different from the other ones: a lot of energy – a different type of energy – a lot of it because of New York and the kind of energy I’ve felt there. It’s the influence of New York on me”.

As we walked back to the club, part of me wished she had an extra day or two to experience Chicago’s own characteristically unique energy that slips so often and unfairly unnoticed beneath the glamorous cacophony of the coasts, rather than the 22-hour reality of airports, traffic, and Belmont Avenue (and you ever do have the time, I hope you will let me know). No offense to the neighborhood, but the one block stretch between Berlin and Starbucks at Clark and Belmont (much of which was under construction at the time) is not exactly the pinnacle of what my beloved Chicago has to offer. Still, for a few hours on October 15th and for reasons I cannot even begin to express, there could have been no more perfect place.

He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called “The State I Am In”.

Bear with me for a moment, because I’m not sure where I am going with this, though I promise it relates to music (or at least the way we experience it). If you are a frequent reader of The Indie Handbook, you may have noticed that I have been away for a couple of weeks. It wasn’t really an intentional hiatus, it just sort of happened, and while I love this blog, I am glad I’ve had these two weeks to myself. It has given me a chance to think about a lot of things: about this blog – where we started, how far we’ve come, where we’re going; – the paradoxical, amorphous, ridiculous “indie” universe we (all of us) are constantly creating and defining, even whilst it defines “us” and what the crap this all has to do with me.

And, in all of this, it’s that quest for self-definition – and the subsequent manufactured persona – which has stuck with me (while this is the ideal place for a Kierkegaard reference, I’ll give it a miss; go read The Sickness Unto Death). It’s time we faced the truth: we are a lost generation. Unfortunately, while we are tragically overrun with Hemingways, we haven’t produced an Eliot or Fitzgerald yet (though I suspect there is at least a Hart Crane in our midst, you’ve not yet met her; she lives in Chicago). Even though we claim to prize ambiguity above all other virtues and cherish what we like to call “nuance”, we all require some degree of definition.

And I am not immune to this. When we began this blog, we set out to be ourselves. We were going to ignore the rules and dress code and requisite iPod playlists that define indieness and be honest with you about who we are and what we like – and where the music is concerned, I think we’ve achieved that. But talking to Kristin this week, I came to the realization that I have done a fair bit of inventing over the last eight months. I’ve reinvented myself (or, more accurately, manufactured a second, internet exclusive, Self), and I’m not sure I like him.

Internet Eric is fascinated by celebrities, loves cute girls, and has a particular appreciation for cute celebrities with a celebrity crush list twelve miles long. He does nothing but listen to, think about, and write about music all day. But if you went to a show expecting to meet a trendy, girl chasing, indie music blogger with earphones permanently attached to his head, you’d never find him, because he doesn’t exist. The real me cannot be trendy because they don’t make “indie” clothes for fat people. I like cute girls, but I am drawn to brilliant, creative, irrepressible, strong women with wide-ranging interests who are as fascinated by numbers as they are storytelling. And, frankly, you are more likely to catch me reading Lolita or a fashion/design magazine or “The Waste Land” for the 384th time, than listening to my iPod (which is actually an Archos 605). It’s true, I am as cynical in real life as I come across online, but not so much about other people as my own inevitable failure as a human being.

I say this because I met a genius last week. She has created two of the most perfect albums I have ever heard. Her work is so intricate – so detailed – that I hesitate to even wish to understand her creative thought process because I’d probably break something. And, above all of this, she is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. In all, we sat for half an hour in a busy Starbucks and talked. As far as I know, no one recognized her, and all the while, in the back of my mind, was this little voice saying if you only knew who this woman is, what she can do, what she’s already done, you might stop and listen to what she has to say. I doubt she was thinking the same thing.

Later that night, she (Emilie Simon), made her Chicago debut at Berlin Nightclub, which (for those unfamiliar with the club) has a reputation as one of the premier gay discos in the city. I had never been to a specifically “gay” anything (well, a hotel, once, in Boston, but that’s a different story), nor have I ever felt so un-judged in any reputed “straight” club or bar that I’ve been to. I saw things that night that I’ve never experienced before. I saw people who were entirely uninhibited, dancing with abandon and wearing clothes I would never be caught dead in.

And I leaned over to my friend Lindsey and whispered, (read: shouted) in her ear, “I envy them.”

“So do I,” she said.

I’m living in the future again

I am so tired. I was up until 3:30 this morning writing a review and then back up for work at 8:00. And I have to host a dinner party Saturday evening, so you will forgive me if I choose the path of least resistance and discuss a few albums that I am looking forward to, rather than delve into completely uncharted territory. Back in January, Under the Radar Magazine printed a list of about 25 of the most anticipated indie releases of 2009. I was anticipating 4 of them and they have all been unleashed. These four were not mentioned. They are nothing less than subterranean.

Little Birdie Storybook (more of an idea, really) – Little Birdie Storybook is Becca Kreutz who writes some of the most charming and enchanting songs you will ever hear. All that exists at the moment is a handful of demos on her MySpace page, recorded at home in one take on an out-of-tune piano, but she will be heading into the studio to have another go at them. To be honest, I am going to miss those blue notes. You Regina Spektor fans will enjoy this, though Little Birdie Storybook is pretty much impossible to dislike. I think I am looking forward to this one the most. You will be hearing a lot more from me on this topic in the months to come. In the meantime, listen to the demos. You can find the lyrics here.

FunAim & Ignite (23 August) – Fun is the name of the band. The name is nearly as pretentious as that of French rockers Rock and Roll, but it is entirely appropriate. I caught their set in support of Manchester Orchestra, and I can say without reservation that they have earned the name. Stylistically, they fall somewhere between Queen and Mika. The release date for Aim & Ignite was up in the air for a while, but it now stands at 25 August. I know what I’ll be doing that day. For now you can check out their MySpace where you can pick up a free download of “At least I’m not as sad as I used to be” which you can also stream on Facebook (where you can also become a fan of The Indie Handbook). If you want more, catch one of the few remaining dates with Manchester Orchestra.

The School, (title and release date TBA) – This one is still in the works. They went into the studio to begin work a few weeks ago. If you’ve been following us for a while, you already know how much I love this band and for your sake I will tell everyone else to read this. Needless to say, I am pumped. I may have to go to Cardiff to thank them in person. You are all more than welcome to join me.

Venus Hum, (also TBA) – I mentioned this on the Facebook page a couple of days ago. It’s been three years since their last studio album, The Colors In the Wheel, which included one of my favorite songs ever, “Pink Champaign” (I will post the video below). Finally, they are back in the studio. Annette Strean has one of the most striking voices I have ever heard and backed by multi instrumentalists Kip Kubin and Tony Miracle, they have produced enduringly appealing albums in my music library. I’ve been listening to Big Beautiful Sky all week. You can track the progress of the recording and here a few samples (which may or may not end up on the record) at the band’s blog here. (Ok, I am adding a live version of “Yes and No” because the band are actually in it.)

Andrew Bird in concert – NPR All Songs Considered

Andrew Bird played the first of two sold out shows at the Chicago Civic Opera House last night. The single greatest musical experience of my life took place in that building and I would love to be there tonight to add another to my list. But I won’t be. I will have to settle for this live set from the NPR All Songs Considered archive.

I first encountered Andrew Bird on the cover of Time Out Chicago (I love that magazine!) about two years ago, on the heels of his Armchair Apocrypha. He was selling out large venues then, too. The difference is that now they sell his music at Starbucks (a rant on this topic is forthcoming). This is unfortunate because it means his indie reputation is about to be shattered. Andrew Bird the status symbol will be no more and all that will be left is the music (which, let’s face it, is pretty much the least important aspect of the image we are trying to cultivate out here in the blogosphere).

We, of course, will continue to support him (he has long been a favorite of ours): neither of us has to worry about his or her reputation (Kristin’s is pretty much set now and I never had much of a future to begin with). Still, so long as I have your attention, I urge you to head over to npr.org and listen to this live set because it is brilliant, because he whistles better than you can read, and before it defines you as a soul-less trend-chaser incapable of independent thought like I am.

**NOTE** Tragically, near the end of last night’s show, Bird’s trademark violin slipped from his hands, fell to the floor, and, apparently, cracked in two. We will, no doubt, all mourn with him.