Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire
The Swimming Hour
They oughta put Andrew Bird in the freakin’ Smithsonian — he’s a national treasure. Not only does he help form the Squirrel Nut Zippers, he also finds time to release records like this little bit of odd genius. Seemingly at home playing anything from fuzzed-out ’60s psych rock (“Two Way Action”) or Delta 72-inspired organ raunch (“How Indiscreet”), Bird and his army of violins have made a musical universe that no one else inhabits, and unless Django Reinhart and Syd Barrett record together, ain’t nobody gonna be joining him anytime soon. This record features vocals from Nora O’Connor, who was the best thing about The Blacks until she left. Nora adds a touch of wide-eyed lust to the proceedings, and plays off Bird’s shy, slightly bizarre stance perfectly. This is a record that grows on you, its boozy charms becoming more apparent the longer you know it. Thank heavens for Andrew Bird.