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An Andrew Bird's-Eye View Of His Latest Album

Andrew Bird
Amanda Demme
/
Courtesy of the artist
Andrew Bird

On his last album, Are You Serious, the always inventive Andrew Bird drew inspiration from monumental moments in his own personal life, including getting married and having a son. And now, on My Finest Work Yet, Bird zooms way out on humanity across history's timeline, seeking insight about our current age, in a way he hopes "stays above the news feed noise."

On "Manifest," Bird traces the evolution of life from single celled organisms through vapor and beyond. On "Archipelago," he introduces the idea that "our enemies are what make us whole," and elsewhere he addresses futility, fate and responsibility. There are songs that draw on Greek mythology, from Sisyphus to the Olympians, and one inspired by The Spanish Civil War. And in the most Bird-ian way, Andrew somehow turns these high concepts into amazingly fun and appealing pop songs that aren't on the nose, aren't prescriptive or patronizing. Just offerings of some important stuff to think about or whistle along to.

I spoke to Andrew about why he wanted to record the whole album live in a room with his band, his tendency "to seek out struggle" and creating sounds based on what he perceives the space around him wants to hear. Listen in the player.

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Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.
World Cafe senior producer Kimberly Junod has been a part of the World Cafe team since 2001, when she started as the show's first line producer. In 2011 Kimberly launched (and continues to helm) World Cafe's Sense of Place series that includes social media, broadcast and video elements to take listeners across the U.S. and abroad with an intimate look at local music scenes. She was thrilled to be part of the team that received the 2006 ASCAP Deems Taylor Radio Broadcast Award for excellence in music programming. In the time she has spent at World Cafe, Kimberly has produced and edited thousands of interviews and recorded several hundred bands for the program, as well as supervised the show's production staff. She has also taught sound to young women (at Girl's Rock Philly) and adults (as an "Ask an Engineer" at WYNC's Werk It! Women's Podcast Festival).
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