Andrew Bird's Bowl Of Fire
The Swimming Hour


4.5
superb

Review

by Keelan H. EMERITUS
December 22nd, 2010 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ladies and gentlemen: Professor Bird

Unfortunately hidden in the back end of Andrew Bird’s (progressively extensive) catalogue, The Swimming Hour shows a different side of the violinist/singer/whistler extraordinaire. Fresh off his stint with the excellent Squirrel Nut Zippers, Bird remains in that revivalist mindset, but unlike his former band, he doesn’t stick to a neo-swing revival. That’s there too, but The Swimming Hour more than anything acts as a history book of American musical movements. So enter Doctor Bird, Phd. in American Folk Music. Here he teaches of the always odd genre of rockabilly in “Core and Rind”. And here, a study of waltzes with “Dear Old Greenland”. He even delves into the music of the Golden Era of Hollywood with “Waiting to Talk,” which might as well be sung by Bing Crosby himself. He rolls through Dixieland jazz, film-noir, blues, Appalachian folk, classical, garage rock, you name it. The Swimming Hour is much like a Norton Anthology of American Musical Trends, sans the vaguely pretentious footnotes and Stephen Greenblatt. But this is not purely an academic lesson.

No, no. Mr. Bird is that type of professor who uses his lectures as a performance, with winks and nods to the audience and jokes abound. Everybody loves the professor who makes awkwardly inappropriate jokes. Andrew Bird is like that popular professor who usually teaches Popular Culture (except his lessons are infinitely more valuable). In doing so he simultaneously manages to search out his own voice. It’s a voice he would begin to perfect with The Mysterious Production of Eggs. The voice that marries his virtuoso capabilities with the violin (seriously that work on “Case in Point” is incredible), his very subdued yet tuneful singing, and other-worldly whistling ability. He doesn’t simply go through a selection of genre-hopping set pieces. He makes these songs his own. These sound like Andrew Bird versions of old genres, not Andrew Bird playing old genres. The difference is slight but important. So the appeal of The Swimming Hour is ultimately two-fold. Firstly, this is an excellent collection of songs by an excellent musician. Second, it shapes an interesting narrative for fans of Bird that contrasts where he is now, with where he came from. For these reasons and more, The Swimming Hour is an oft overlooked gem that deserves your attention.



Recent reviews by this author
Sufjan Stevens Silver & GoldAndrew Bird Break It Yourself
Florence and the Machine CeremonialsBlitzen Trapper American Goldwing
The Muppets The Green AlbumThe Horrors Skying
user ratings (37)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
thebhoy
Emeritus
December 22nd 2010


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

argh, formatting. Fixing.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 22nd 2010


7289 Comments


This is an amazingly good read. But I'm sure you already knew that =) The way you crank out stuff like this is absolutely phenomenal.

Have a pos.

Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

thebhoy
Emeritus
December 23rd 2010


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cheers

Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 23rd 2010


10594 Comments


More personality and poise contained here than in reviews three times it's length. Pos.

Digging: Grouper - Ruins

thebhoy
Emeritus
December 23rd 2010


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks Xeno, I feel like you may like this. Have you listened to any Andrew Bird before?

AggravatedYeti
December 23rd 2010


7685 Comments


He even delves into the music of the Golden Era of Hollywood with “Waiting to Talk,” which might as well be sung by Bing Crosby himself.


YES.
easily my favorite andrew bird song.

WatchItExplode
December 23rd 2010


3248 Comments


Obligatory comment on Andrew Bird review.......I'm sure this is another fantastic Keelan review, will read later

killrobotmusic
December 23rd 2010


670 Comments


This sounds fantastic, I'll have to check it out.

thebhoy
Emeritus
December 23rd 2010


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've been listening to this non-stop lately. I find it funny that p4k gave it a 9 and then never ever mentioned it again. They did the same with Squirrel Nut Zippers. Not hip enough I guess.

AggravatedYeti
December 23rd 2010


7685 Comments


album is old enough that it could have been a pre-buyout review.

thebhoy
Emeritus
December 23rd 2010


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

explain

AggravatedYeti
December 23rd 2010


7685 Comments


basically I wouldn't be surprised if the album no longer falls under their desired aesthetic since the 09 overhaul.

which doesn't make much sense but then again, p4k.

thebhoy
Emeritus
December 23rd 2010


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh, I see. Yes well they have a tendency to like albums that don't fit into their typical listenership so they don't promote them in their best of lists, like Isis and some jazz like Vijay Iyer

AggravatedYeti
December 23rd 2010


7685 Comments


exactly Keelan.

thebhoy
Emeritus
December 24th 2010


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

listen to this chambered

WeepingBanana
December 24th 2010


10147 Comments


fuckin love andrew bird. still need to get this

wacknizzle
March 5th 2012


13267 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

WTF, can't believe I didn't know about this album before, it's soo awesome and for some reason only has a 3.5 average rating from only 26 people. What kind of fools would do Mr. Bird this level of injustice?

Digging: Dioramic - Supra

thebhoy
Emeritus
March 5th 2012


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

seriously I don't understand why this is one of his lowest rated albums on the site.

AggravatedYeti
March 5th 2012


7685 Comments


3.6 aint bad

wacknizzle
March 5th 2012


13267 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah but now i've listened to this, it's definitely one of Birds best albums and it gets no recognition.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy