Thursday, October 11, 2007

Widow City

Two days, two ridiculously great new CD's. 2007 has already been a terrific year for new music - Panda Bear, Bat for Lashes, Patrick Wolf, White Rabbits, and even a few bands that aren't named for animals.

Yesterday, I raved about the new Radiohead (despite the complaints of high-strung audiophiles everywhere). Today, I'm on the new Fiery Furnaces, Widow City. It rules. I'm a huge fan of this band - who put on one of the best live shows I've seen, maybe ever, a few years ago at the Echo - but their last two albums have been really frustrating.

2005's Rehearsing My Choir could have been great, but the frankly bizarre idea of having the brother-and-sister duo's grandmother speak-sing over all of the songs just ruined the experience. Honestly, this was kind of interesting the first time I listened to it, but the thing has absolutely zero re-listen value. I'm rarely in the kind of mood where I feel like listening to someone's grandmother blather over a 70 minute rock album. Listen for yourself:


I'm all for experimentation, but come on...that's just not going to work for the entire length of a CD. It's certainly not very musical...

2006's Bitter Tea was somewhat improved, but again, a single wacky decision prevented me from ever wanting to actually listen to the thing. Eleanor and Matt decided to loop much of the music and vocals backwards, and to fill up every spare inch of space in each of the songs with loud, overwhelming synths. It's just way way way too much, and only a few songs (like "Police Sweater Blood Vow" and "Benton Harbor Blues") come out unscathed.

Widow City sounds like a total return to form, like a slightly more reigned-in Blueberry Boat. It's the Furnaces' least cutesy CD to date, I think, ditching a lot of the playful ditties for more grungy, robust guitar rock. It still sounds definitely like the Fiery Furnaces, and is thus extremely weird, but more approachable and immediate than anything they've done since their debut, Gallowbird's Bark.

Here's a sample...


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