For indie music aficionados it doesn’t get any better than this, a dream pairing of the Scottish septet Belle and Sebastian and the American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird. Both are singular voices who inspire intense devotion.
Belle and Sebastian can be elusive, touring sporadically and playing coy with the press. Led by guitarist-singer Stuart Murdoch, “the band has an intimate, majestic sound that is equal parts folk-rock and ‘60s pop, but Murdoch’s gift not just for whimsy and surrealism but also for odd, unsettling lyrical detail, keeps the songs grounded in tangible reality.” (All Music). The band’s most recent album, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, blends electro-glide, baroque balladry, and Europop hooks.
Andrew Bird makes his second appearance at the NCMA. After working with the Chapel Hill-based Squirrel Nut Zippers in the 1990s, Bird has been in full command of his career. “He’s always been an oddity in the indie-rock community,” notes Variety, “simultaneously capable of creating wildly eclectic folk music, luminous instrumental compositions, and simple, threadbare pop.” A virtuosic whistler, Bird delights in creating evocative soundscapes filled with looping violin patterns, glockenspiel, and other imaginative musical devices.
Bird’s most recent album, Are You Serious, released to rave reviews in 2016, brings forward his most personal songwriting to date. Writing for NPR Music, Stephen Thompson says Bird “keeps sounding warmer, sweeter, more thoughtful and approachable, while continuing to land lines that stick with you for days.”