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Andrew Bird whistling his way to mainstream attention

for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

With his band Bowl of Fire and as a solo artist since 2003, multi-instrumentalist and musical auteur Andrew Bird has amassed a steady and growing fan base for his adventurous and experimental music.

But it's a safe bet Bird has never caught more ears than he did with "The Whistling Caruso," his contribution to the soundtrack for last year's hit film "The Muppets."

"I really enjoyed that," says Bird, 38. "I was one of I don't know how many songwriters, just offering to do it on spec because we were Muppets fans. And I wrote about five songs, and I knew a lot of those songs wouldn't get in there but I didn't care.

"In the end the whistling thing that closes the film, there's a lot of back and forth to get just the right comedic timing -- how earnest it should be, how virtuoistic it should be. But we worked it and yeah, it was pretty gratifying."

So is "Break It Yourself," Bird's 12th album, which came out in March. Its No. 10 debut on the Billboard 200 was Bird's best yet, building on the bigger audience he netted with its predecessor, 2009's "Noble Beast."

"Every record is a little reactionary to the one before it," Bird explains. " 'Noble Beast' was probably the farthest stretch of linguistic out-thereness, so I think this time I was a little more down on poetics and little more into directness, or at least distilling things to a little more direct language, saying as much as I can with as few words as possible.

"Even with choosing the title, I had a bunch of proposed titles that were typically understated and more poetic. They sounded nice, looked nice, but I was like, 'Y'know, I want something a little more...violent, a little more direct.' That was the way we approached everything n the album."

Andrew Bird and Mucca Pazza perform Thursday, May 10, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $45, $40 and $35. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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