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Arts Recommends

Published: November 2, 2012
Section: Arts, Etc.


Hands of Glory
Connor Novy, Editor

Being “indefinable” is a dubious blessing. It has connotations of saccharine whimsy or being generally unlistenable. Andrew Bird, however, continues to disregard the boundaries of genre with his newest release, “Hands of Glory.” With only eight songs, it might be too short to stand alone as an album, but works as a companion to “Break it Yourself,” his album from earlier this year. Released Tuesday, it is a subtle but significant change from his last few. Over the past few years, Bird was becoming increasingly relatable. His music, while still excellent, was more and more consumable by the masses. “Hands of Glory” is a testament to the unorthodox musicianship we saw from him in the 90s with Squirrel Nut Zippers and “Bowl of Fire.” Andrew Bird has returned to his bluesy roots. “Hands of Glory” is reminiscent of his earlier albums. With characteristic quixotism, Bird abandons the dreamy folk-pop of Noble Beast and Break it Yourself, in favor for a morose, heavy base-lined Gothic Southern sincerity.

It is not regression, or falling back onto old material. While “Hands of Glory” sounds like “Thrills,” or his former group Andrew Bird and his Bowl of Fire, it is still new. He has grown musically, and become subtler with age. We get to hear, once again, his skill as a fiddler. His lyrics, always baffling and beautiful, have become wiser. The center of the album, “Something Biblical,” is especially impressive in what it takes from the past—not only of Bird’s, but of the American musical tradition and then modernizes with due reverence.

Bird might be consciously rebelling from the popular whimsy he has been pigeonholed with lately. “Hands of Glory” reads like a challenge to his recent work. Whether he has proved to himself that he can continue to push boundaries is debatable, but it is obvious he has not lost his touch.

Interview with the Vampire
Juliette Martin, Editor

In the last few years, the popularity of vampire fiction has exploded. Of course, there is a long-standing obsession in literature and other media with vampires, dating back to the decidedly unattractive “Nosferatu” of 1922. The modern, sexual and alluring vampire claims it’s popularity from 1976, with the publication of Anne Rice’s first novel, “Interview with the Vampire.” The novel, which was adapted into a movie in 1994, tells the life story of Louis de Pointe du Lac and his creator, the now iconic Lestat de Lioncourte. The dark novel, which presents the tortured soul in the form of Louis and the wild creature in the form of Lestat, deals with a multitude of themes, including family, maturity, morality and responsibility, as the vampires struggle to understand their relationships with humanity, their prey and their fellow vampires.

Though in her later years, Anne Rice’s quality had notoriously declined, this first novel is a masterpiece of an opening to a prolific career. The novel is ripe with rich prose, loaded with imagery and full of emotional, compelling dialogue. The book’s fan base has remained strong to this day, a testament to the its remarkable quality. Furthermore, “Interview With a Vampire,” as the precursor to a cultural obsession, is a key target for social observation and analysis—what is it about the vampire that has so captivated the modern day? The answer to such questions, if anywhere, may be found in Anne Rice’s best novel.