Category: Dosh

Review: Andrew Bird, Break It Yourself

Andrew Bird’s songwriting approach is seemingly paradoxical, at once highly improvisational and long-simmering, with material sometimes taking years to finally gel together. The results are familiar to anyone who’s followed his string of breezily baroque albums over the last decade, full of virtuosic and engaging inter-weavings of melodies and loops spun from violin, whistling, guitar, and Bird’s warbling tenor. While his songs are elegantly crafted and artfully arranged, he’s careful not to lose the sense that music is about creating a space to explore, to wander through and maybe even get lost in. That’s certainly the case with his sixth solo album, Break It Yourself.

Working with his longtime, improv-friendly backing band of Martin Dosh, Jeremy Ylvisaker, and Mike Lewis, Bird recorded Break It Yourself in a loose-knit weeklong session at his barn outside of Chicago, capturing the performances largely live. The approach pays dividends in creating an off-the-cuff atmosphere for songs that have probably been honed and re-imagined frequently, often making Break It Yourself feel as if it’s being created on the spot.

It’s extraordinarily intimate at times, especially given the overarching theme of heartbreak and broken connections that suffuses the album. Which is not to say that Break It Yourself is ever nakedly and painfully personal. That is simply not Bird’s style, and even when his lyrics veer toward the confessional, they’re couched inside oblique and ambivalently calm language. “Lazy Projector” spins out a metaphor on the untrustworthiness of memory as the deliberately crafted fiction of a movie, edited and recast to smooth out the sharp edges of truth, before finally throwing in a direct statement: “I can’t see the sense in us breaking up at all.” From such a normally reserved songwriter, the line explodes like a depth charge.

On “Lusitania,” Bird turns to maritime war history—the ship sinkings that helped launch the U.S. into two wars—for another metaphor on a destroyed relationship, but shifts both mood and metaphor with a gently lilting guest vocal from St. Vincent’s Annie Clark nicely underplaying a verse about the electricity of a new connection. It’s indicative of a beautifully free-flowing set of tunes that soar and waft like a flock of starlings, building to a quietly epic mood that is too ruminative and introspective to suffer from grandiosity.

Originally published March 7, 2012 on Read the complete article.

Interview: The Cloak Ox

After the implosion of his highly regarded but underheard experimental indie band Fog in 2007, it took a couple of years for Andrew Broder to chart a new course as a musician. That’s not to say he didn’t keep busy, releasing nearly seven hours of ambient Fripp/Eno-style instrumentals in 2009, recording the soundtrack for Alan Moore’s audiovisual project Unearthing last year, and touring as part of Anticon indie-rap group Why? But with his new band Cloak Ox, he’s laying down the most straightforward and hard-charging indie rock of his career, backed by three longtime friends and former Fog compatriots, bassist Mark Erickson, guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker, and drummer Martin Dosh. Cloak Ox plays a CD-release show for its debut EP Prisen Sept. 30 at Loring Theater. The A.V. Club met with the band after one of its weekly morning jam sessions—where the Creedence Clearwater Revival covers were the biggest clue how different this band is from Fog—to talk about the joys of keeping it simple.

Originally published Sept. 29, 2011 on Read the complete article.

Interview: Martin Dosh

Martin Dosh has found his widest audience as part of Andrew Bird’s band, but the Minnesota musician’s own work is just as worthy of attention. In May 2008, Dosh released his fourth solo disc, Wolves And Wishes, which follows his now-familiar but certainly not stale method of building up soundscapes through a careful rearrangement of live improvisation with his collaborators—including Bird, Happy Apple saxophonist Michael Lewis, and guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker, who also plays in Bird’s live band. The A.V. Club sat down with Dosh in advance of the CD release.

Originally published on June 16, 2008. Read the complete article.

Review: Dosh, Wolves And Wishes

Even in this age, songwriters relying too heavily on samplers and electronic effects run the risk of creating cold, soulless, boring music that lacks a human touch. That emphatically isn’t a problem for Minneapolis musician Martin Dosh, whose deft touch at manipulating sound seems to grow more organic and appealing with each record, including his fourth solo disc, Wolves And Wishes. Dosh is probably known best as a collaborator of Andrew Bird, whose similar approach to loop-based music led to Dosh joining Bird’s live show and co-writing the 2007 disc Armchair Apocrypha. On Wolves, Dosh gathers a crowd of accomplished improvisers, including Bird, Bonnie “Prince” Billy (who adds an appropriately haunting wail to “Bury The Ghost”), and a bevy of Twin Cities musicians, including Bad Plus drummer David King, guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker, and Happy Apple saxophonist Mike Lewis, who also accompanies Dosh on tour. Dosh breaks up and recombines their contributions to create new, flowing currents of polyrhythmic melody. Largely instrumental, his songs are freed from the shackles of verse-chorus-verse structure, and seem instead to evolve like dreams, always in motion and revealing new surprises at each turn.

Originally published on May 12, 2008. Read the complete article.

Interview: Andrew Bird

Whistler, violinist, and all-around musical polymath Andrew Bird scored his biggest success so far with 2005′s terrific The Mysterious Production Of Eggs, which introduced his offbeat, complex songwriting to a new audience. Shortly afterward, he found a simpatico partner in Minneapolis drummer and loop artist Martin Dosh, who joined Bird on tour and later brought him to Minnesota for the recording of Bird’s follow-up album, the remarkable Armchair Apocrypha. Bird, on tour with Dosh and guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker, recently spoke with The A.V. Club about the new album, the importance of improvising, and the drawbacks of the minor key.

Originally published on March 13, 2007. Read the complete article.

Best Music Of 2006: Loon State Edition

As the A.V. Club’s Twin Cities editor, I was happy to weigh in on our collective national Best Music Of 2006 list (here’s a link to my personal top 10), but I also thought it would be important to do the same for my own local music scene. I put the following list together for the A.V. Club’s Minneapolis print edition, and in the name of civic pride and all that, I’ll share it with you guys here too. Though making these annual best-of lists is one of the highlights of a critics’ year, the idea of ranking one musician against another sometimes seems a little ludicrous. Is a rap group really comparable to a folk duo, or an alt-country band? You know what they say about apples and oranges. Still, they’re both fruit, and if you can’t pick out rotten produce, you’re gonna wind up in the hospital. Of course, you can’t really compare CDs and fruit either, except to say that if you try to eat a CD you will definitely end up in the hospital even if it’s a good band. (This despite the fact that economists call people who buy CDs “consumers.”) At any rate, here are my picks for the best Minnesota-made music of 2006.

Originally published Dec. 14, 2006 on Read the complete article.

Interview: Martin Dosh

A lot of great musicians immerse themselves in a world of sound, and in Martin Dosh’s case, that’s true on more than one level. In the studio, the Twin Cities drummer and keyboardist, part of the loose-knit Anticon collective, creates intricate collages from looped and recombined audio. Not samples, but music composed by Dosh specifically for the purpose of being reworked later into his aural mosaic. His live setup resembles something NASA would use to control a Mars lander, with Dosh surrounded on all sides by banks of keyboards, effects pedals, samplers, a mixing board, and his drum set. Guests on Dosh’s new The Lost Take include violin-wielding Chicagoan Andrew Bird (Dosh also doubles as Bird’s backing drummer) as well as fellow Minnesotans including Tapes N’ Tapes’ Erik Appelwick, Happy Apple’s Michael Lewis, and Sean McPherson of Heiruspecs. But the sensibility is pure Dosh: graceful, highly textured, warm, even meditative, but with an ever-present and constantly surprising rhythmic flow. The A.V. Club caught up with Dosh a couple of weeks before Lost Take‘s release.

Originally published on Oct. 19, 2006. Read the complete article.

Interview: Andrew Bird: “I hope to get some more chickens and this time keep them alive.”

Andrew Bird hatched onto the national stage as the violinist for Squirrel Nut Zippers during the short-lived 1990s swing trend, but as a solo artist, he’s revealed a rare, remarkable talent that goes far beyond retro kitsch. His 2003 album Weather Systems and last year’s superb The Mysterious Production Of Eggs combined Bird’s vibrant compositional skill with allusive, surreal lyrics and a formidable ability as a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist—not to mention whistler. Live, he’s a veritable one-man orchestra, lacking only a drummer—and he found a great one last year in another polymathic talent, Minnesota-based Martin Dosh. Their instantaneous rapport quickly developed into a full-fledged collaboration and tour. The A.V. Club caught up with Bird recently by phone to talk about his music and what he would do if he got more chickens.

Originally published on Feb. 21, 2006. Read the complete article.

2005: The Year In Music (Loon State Edition)

As someone who’s lived almost all of his life in the Twin Cities, I’ve always been a big fan of Minnesota’s music scene, and one of the pleasures of being The A.V. Club’s Twin Cities editor is that I get to hear so much local music. As a sidebar to our national 2005: The Year In Music list, here’s my take on the best discs made by or (in one case) about Minnesotans this year.

1) Low, The Great Destroyer: Low’s musical identity is so closely tied to melancholy, introspective stillness that turning up the volume would seem to wreck what’s appealing about the band in the first place, but on The Great Destroyer, Duluth’s finest export after taconite pellets cranked up the fuzzbox and the amps without sacrificing a thing. Instead, the increased intensity—ominously rumbling keyboards under “Monkey,” a loud, distorted riff powering “Everybody’s Song”—lends Destroyer an epic quality that works hand in hand with the intimacy at the heart of a Low song.

Originally published Dec. 16, 2005 on Read the complete article.

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