The Bowery Presents
Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Patrick Watson

Fri, May 4, 2012

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Beacon Theatre

New York, NY

$45, $40

This event is all ages

Bird will celebrate the release of Break It Yourself with a North American tour set to kick off in Texas in mid-March. All concert tickets will be bundled with a unique musical package including a redemption code to download Break It Yourself upon release date (March 6). Ticketbuyers will also receive a download of Fake Conversations, a live EP culled from Bird’s fall 2011 tour, and a second souvenir live EP from the Spring 2012 tour.

Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird
With his new album, Are You Serious, Andrew Bird has widened the breadth of his art by directly refecting his own human experience. With key contributions from Fiona Apple and Blake Mills, Are You Serious attains a level of expression that's a personal, evolutionary leap. "Here I am with my most unguarded, direct, relatable album to date," Bird says, "Go easy on me."

"I set out to make a record that's diferent than any I've made before,” he explains. "I wanted to make an album musically crafed like a Wrecking Crew session, where you have to be good. There's less wordplay and more intention to process some brutal times that I went through. What happens when real ordeals befall someone who has always been happy writing from their imagination and the distance of the third person? Who has time for poetics while grappling with birth and death? What's the role of sincerity for a songwriter who doesn't really go in for the confessional thing? This is what I struggled with for this record. I suppose the title could be poking fun at my own foray into the confessional realm."

Are You Serious is the second record Bird has made with producer Tony Berg, following 2005’s breakthroughThe Mysterious Production of Eggs. "Tony and I spent months preparing for Sound City," says Bird, referring to the legendary Los Angeles studio where Nirvana recorded Nevermind and Neil Young made Afer The Gold Rush. "We went through every part of every song, every note, scrutinizing the voicing of the chords, fnding melodically interesting ways to move from one chord to the next. I decided to work with a producer because I wanted the recording process to be more rigorous. Novelists have editors and
playwrights workshop their drama. Tony really played that role for me on this album.”

An up-tempo blitz addressing personal chemistry as a rearrangement of molecules, “Roma Fade” may be the album's centerpiece. Its sense of longing – "from the tips of your fingers, every strand of hair ...you may not know me but you feel my stare" – is based in part on how Bird met his wife, or rather, the times he saw her before they met. “It always seemed to be at a party, from fifteen or twenty feet away,” he explains. “‘Roma Fade’ and ‘Truth Lies Low’ present both sides of the phenomenon of observing and being observed. Desire draws a fne line between what's romantic and what's creepy."

The album’s surprise revelation is "Lef Handed Kisses," a duet with the singular Fiona Apple. With Bird playing the skeptic and Apple the romantic, the stop-start ballad portrays two lovers who are philosophically opposed but inevitably drawn together. It feels like it could be a lost Johnny Cash/June Carter classic.

"The song began as an internal dialogue," Bird says. "At first it was just my voice. Then this other voice came creeping in and I thought 'this should be a duet if I can fnd the right person.' I needed to find someone really indicting. And Fiona does the pissed of thing really well! She was totally committed. The session was a long whiskey-fueled night. We were unhinged, for sure. All worth it, of course... I can't write simple love songs. People are complex. My inclination was to write a song about why I can't write a simple love song."

"My favorite songs I write are the ones that change and adapt according to my mood," says Bird. Albumopener "Capsized" is a prime example, having been in his live repertoire for close to a decade under various titles and guises. In the album's recorded incarnation, "Capsized" is a propulsive gem evoking both the chamber-soul of Bill Withers and the backbeat of The Meters. Bird's vocals are driven onward by drummer Ted Poor and bassist Alan Hampton. The musically expansive nature of Are You Serious is due in part to ace ensemble players like Poor and Hampton, and the guitar playing of Blake Mills. "Blake raises the bar and gets where I'm coming from like few musicians I've met. He's as restless as I am and gets the odd accents and microtonal stuf that's outside western music.”

The album closer "Valleys of the Young" encapsulates the album’s themes. This is what Andrew means of when he uses the word “brutal.” “For years now, the code I've been trying to crack is how to translate plainspoken real life into song and have it meet my melodic, syntactic standards. There are no riddles here. No encryption. I've lef the valley of the young, the small-seeming dramas, the brunch and misery, for a far more perilous place where your heart breaks from cradle to grave. The musical setting for this had to ensure that both young and old listeners can relate. Tony kept making us look at photos of the dust bowl storms raging across the prairie, the ones that made Woody Guthrie sing ‘So long it’s been good to know ya.’”

Jettisoning established methods begets reinvention. This is part of the great success of Are You Serious. See how it plays out in person on Bird's 17-date Spring 2016 tour, kicking of March 30 at The Ryman in Nashville. "I never walk onstage knowing what I'm doing," says the artist. "It's a shrug-of-the-shoulders approach and people like it, it seems human to them. I began playing with the idea of reinvention, so that onstage a wild untamed thing can happen. I wanted to make a record that lets me subvert or expand my onstage personality. "A personality now ready to answer the question, Are You Serious.
Patrick Watson
Patrick Watson
Now approaching a decade as a band, it has been a truly interesting journey for Patrick Watson and his cohorts. Having accomplished such feats as playing to over 100,000 people at the 2009 Montreal Jazz Festival, composing 15 scores for film and television, receiving Canada’s elite Polaris Music Prize in 2007, and most recently performing two songs in Wim Wenders’s current 3D epic “Every Thing Will Be Fine”, his career has had many peaks, with more to come with the release of his forthcoming album, Love Songs For Robots.

Still standing proudly at the helm, Love Songs For Robots marks Patrick Watson’s fifth release since Watson first galvanized this “temporary project” in 2006 with the release of his critically acclaimed debut Close To Paradise. His latest installment in his already impressive body of work follows up on his stunning 2012 release Adventures In Your Own Backyard. Signatures like his hushed falsetto croon remains to be the vessel that transports his vast emotional depths, but Love Songs For Robots proudly shows Watson sailing out into uncharted waters once again.

The new album was recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles and Pierre Marchand Studio in Montreal. Of the record, some of which was debuted at private concerts in small loft spaces, Watson explains, “I started thinking about things in a very mechanical way. I found it interesting how we would use our senses to come up with an emotional reaction. As I get older you get to know yourself better and I realized that a lot of my emotional reactions were mechanical responses and that was hugely influential. I didn’t want to be a robot. But the reason why we are superior to computers is that we have emotions and I realized that emotions are mechanical so the only thing left between us and robots is curiosity and inspiration – and I don’t think you can program that into a computer. That’s definitely where I was at when I started writing the record.”

From the crawling crescendo of the opening ethereal soundscape of the title track, the listener is slowly lured into Watson’s world, revealing musical moments that are as equally challenging as they are comforting. Destinations are cleverly concealed as we are invited to take in the lush scenery – sharp experimental and progressive left turns, grandiose gestures that shoulder up against fearless austerity – and all delivered in a crisp panoramic scope that could only come from Watson’s lens. His hard-fought lyrical pearls are now guided through newfound psychedelic and soul swagger influences, as left of center instrumentation and arrangements cover up well-beaten tracks, and makes this a rewarding and truly original statement.

Love Songs for Robots bears Watson’s indelible stamp, and manages to create a piece of work that is not only stirring, daring, and deeply personal, but also represents his creative watermark so far. It’s all too rare to see an artist wear their heart on their sleeve while never growing weary of the battle against cynicism and callousness, but Watson and band’s aim remains true.
Venue Information:
Beacon Theatre
2124 Broadway
New York, NY, 10023
http://www.beacontheatre.com/faq/index.html