The Bird and The Bee, Liam Finn

Fri Jul 17 2015

8:00 PM (Doors 7:00 PM)

The Marlin Room at Webster Hall

125 East 11th St. New York, NY 10003


Ages 18+

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Webster Hall Presents
The Bird and The Bee
Liam Finn

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  • The Bird and The Bee

    The Bird and The Bee

    Pop Rock

    Inara George and Greg Kurstin, alias the bird and the bee, are an army of two.

    They listen to everything, and answer to no one. 

    Over the course of 3 years, they whiled away scattered afternoons in Greg's studio in Echo Park, California, sequestered in a little world of their own making, and creating the ten sunshine-drenched, semi-psychedelic ditties you hold before you. 

    Were these compositions intended for public consumption? Inara and Greg never gave it any thought; they made music together simply for the joy of it. the bird and the bee, their self-titled debut for Metro Blue Records, an imprint of Blue Note Records, is a labor of love.

    If you know anything about the backgrounds of Inara George and Greg Kurstin, the accomplishments of the bird and the bee might not seem quite so casual as all that. Both are blessed with extraordinary intuitive musical abilities, which have been bolstered by years of practice.

    Multi-instrumentalist Greg was a jazz piano prodigy by the time he started shaving; he moved to New York specifically to study with leftist Jaki Byard, a jazz icon best known as Mingus' pianist. He returned to Los Angeles and became one of the city’s most well respected musicians, lending his skills to the likes of Beck and Robert Moog, as well as writing with and/or producing The Flaming Lips, Peaches, and Lily Allen, to name a few.

    As for Inara, she grew up in Los Angeles in a musical household, the daughter of Lowell George, frontman of the eclectic ‘70s Southern rock band Little Feat. For several years she was in different bands in the Los Angeles area until she began her solo career releasing 2005's critically acclaimed All Rise. During the making of that record was when Greg and Inara first met.

    It was through mutual friend and All Rise producer, Mike Andrews, that Inara and Greg made a connection. "I like to sing standards, and Greg likes to play them," recalls Inara. "He was working on my record, and one day, after a rehearsal, we hung out near a piano and, for three or four hours, played all the old songs we knew."

    When they ran short of material, it dawned on them to augment the repertoire with a few originals and put their own stamp on the traditions established by the greats who had gone before. Like the Tropicalia revolutionaries of '60s Brazil, who both revered and reacted against the traditions of bossa nova, the bird and the bee wanted to put their own spin on classic pop conventions.

    Although they composed as a team, Inara was responsible for vocals, while Greg oversaw almost all instrumental parts. Neither party assumed a secondary role; in the creative process, it was purely give-and-take. "Melodies would dictate chord progressions, or sometimes vice-versa, depending on where the vocal part wanted to go," recalls Inara. "The writing was almost improvised in nature."

    This was a change from many of their other gigs, especially for Greg; there was no pressure to deliver a hit song, or capture a signature sound. With the bird and the bee, any idea was fair game.

    The first song the duo collaborated on, “Again & Again,” became a template for the material to come. Handclaps and tambourines, a bumblebee bass line, and Inara’s beguiling vocals blend together in a summery concoction.

    Each of the songs that follows similarly and slyly unveils its own unique charm.

    On “Bird and the Bees,” the breezy waltz feel of the verses juxtaposes vividly with the driving bass and off-kilter accents of the chorus. “F-cking Boyfriend” opens with an ominous drone before blossoming into an effervescent dance floor ditty that distills the agitation needling many a troubled heart (“Would you ever be m”). On the lovely and slowly insistent “I’m A Broken Heart,” a majestic brass arrangement and a soaring trombone solo try to encourage Inara’s wounded lyric (“My love is bleeding”) back to happiness.

    After “Spark,” the dreamlike closer, has drifted off into silence, you may find yourself mesmerized by the journey that Inara and Greg have just taken you on. You may also find yourself going back to Track 1 and starting the journey all over again, because the bird and the bee will surely be one of the most infectious and thoroughly enjoyable musical offerings of the year… Or any year for that matter.

  • Liam Finn

    Liam Finn

    Rock & Roll

    'The Nihilist' might sound like a dark title for a record, but Liam Finn begs to differ. "There's an idea of nihilism as being quite a negative or macabre concept, but it really isn’t at all," the New Zealand native says excitedly. "I like the idea that maybe everything we think we know about this reality or have come to believe is potentially untrue."

    The truth is, Liam Finn's music has always existed in its own distinct reality of other-worldly arrangements and blissfully catchy hooks. His debut album, 'I'll Be Lightning,' earned Artist to Watch accolades from The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Spin, Stereogum and more, along with performances on Letterman and Ferguson. Entertainment Weekly hailed his "effervescent choruses [and] swooning harmonies," while Billboard called the record a "charmer." He toured the world, sharing stages with the likes of Eddie Vedder, The Black Keys, and Wilco along the way, and in 2011, he released his follow-up, 'FOMO,' to further critical acclaim, with SPIN saying the album "blends sophisticated melodies and wistful vocals with masterful authority."

    'The Nihilst,' his third solo record, builds on all those strengths, pushing his songwriting and arrangements into more refined and mature dimensions, a notion he attributes as much to geography as anything.

    Finn found a studio space not far from his new home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with windows overlooking the Manhattan skyline. "As soon as I found my own space to bunker down, the songs started taking shape," he says. "There was a surreal feeling created through the energy of where I was and looking over at Manhattan and seeing it as a subconscious dimension, an entity in itself where every story under the sun was happening all at once. Any fantasy or fear you have in your own mind is probably playing out in reality in Manhattan at any one time."

    Finn used the inspiration to explore new perspectives and deeper levels of his own psyche. Playing 67 instruments, he maniacally assembled the album along with frequent bandmates/collaborators Eliza Jane Barnes (vocals), his brother Elroy (drums), and fellow New Zealand songwriter Jol Mulholland (bass) in sessions entirely between the hours of sunset and sunrise.

    "It turned into this very weird existence," he explains. "I worked myself up into a frenzy to be able to inhabit the character that was created in each of these songs. They feel more personal to me than ever before, but they're written out of the idea of being someone else."

    The album opens with "Ocean Emmanuelle," a dreamy, collaborative effort with Mulholland that sets a tone of troubled beauty. "Snug As Fuck," a melodic and fantastical duet with frequent collaborator Barnes, bridges the gap between Finn's work as a teenager in the acclaimed New Zealand band Betchadupa and his current solo career, while "Burn Up The Road" is an infectious fuzzed up rocker. "4 Track Stomper" builds a distorted beat on an old four-track tape recorder into an off-kilter masterpiece, and the album's eerie, percussive title track was actually born as an a capella arrangement during a jam with Elroy.

    "There's quite a groovy, irreverent swagger to it," Liam says, "but there's always this slight element of unhinged tension."

    It's a fitting description for the record as a whole, which, much like the city that captured Finn's imagination as he watched from across the river, balances moments of triumph and anxiety as he channels its countless characters' inner workings through his own musical prism to reveal his finest, most sophisticated work yet.


Webster Hall Presents

The Bird and The Bee
Liam Finn

Fri Jul 17 2015 8:00 PM

(Doors 7:00 PM)

The Marlin Room at Webster Hall New York NY
The Bird and The Bee, Liam Finn
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$30.00 Ages 18+