Long before Sufjan Stevens inspired rabid fandom for his junkyard-folk screeds, Chicago multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird
inspired a cult of his own, thanks to antique-sounding albums that felt plucked from dusty 1920s parlors. Recording first with his troupe Bowl of Fire and then emerging as a solo artist, Bird specializes in majestic mini-symphonies. Last year's The Mysterious Production of Eggs
(think a sleepy-eyed Rufus Wainwright) prominently features Bird coaxing warm sounds from his violin, tones that dart like a hummingbird, mince as daintily as a ballerina or screech like a rocker's guitar.