REVIEWS | FEATURES | DEPARTMENTS | BOOMBOX | PODCAST | MISC
SEARCH:
splendid > reviews > 11/17/2003
The Fiery Furnaces
The Fiery Furnaces
Gallowsbird's Bark
Rough Trade


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Up in the North"

Buy me now
The Fiery Furnaces' two main members are brother and sister. Riiiiight. Heard that before.

Other than ostensible lineup similarities, the blues-rock influence and a certain studied amateurishness, Gallowsbird's Bark doesn't overly echo the work of a certain candy-striped duo. Eleanor Friedberger's raucously blasé sing-speaking inflections initially make it difficult to put Jack White out of your mind (although, as she's originally from Texas, she has more right to the twang than he does). However, The Fiery Furnaces are so orchestrated, so simultaneously old-timey and out-there, that after the first few tracks all comparisons are blown away, as irrelevant as an oil baron in the Friedbergers' current home of Brooklyn.

Gallowsbird's Bark is an ambitious (at sixteen tracks, some might say cocky) debut. It pulls from a grab bag of influences, from Bob Dylan to Broadway, The Who to honky-tonk, and tosses them around with apparent abandon. In spite of this (or maybe because of it), The FFs spin all of this into a sound that's consistent, yet almost magically unique; Eleanor's off-the-wall yet Everyman-(or Everywoman-)ish lyrics, Matthew Friedberger's finger-twisting ragtime guitar solos and drummer Ryan Sawyer's swingy rhythms (he's part of the band too, y'know -- at least on this record) add up to much more than a sum of parts. Some of this is because the band is willing to take some risks, and the current musical climate definitely encourages their blend of experimentation and traditionalism. Still, few could get away with smacking "Leaky Tunnel"'s stagey, tension-building analog synth arpeggios up against the folksy barroom sing-along of "Up in the North" without starting a dilettantes' brawl.

A major part of The Fiery Furnaces' charm is Eleanor herself. She exudes a cantankerous rootsiness, like a rather surly country mouse who's taken over the city instead of scurrying back to the farm. In her mouth, "I pierced my ears with a three-hole punch / Ate twelve dozen donuts for lunch" sounds like a perfectly reasonable, even insightful, thing to say in a song. The bands that inspire the most fervent devotion in their fans tend to have charismatic frontpeople, and Eleanor has the appropriate combination of larger-than-life showmanship and down-to-earth Bedford Avenue cynicism. If the Fiery Furnaces can keep putting out records that clear the bar they've set on Gallowsbird's Bark, they should earn quite a large following without ever resorting to uniforms... Peppermint, anyone?



REVIEWS:

12/31/2005:
Ladytron

Brian Cherney

Tomas Korber

UHF

The Rude Staircase

Dian Diaz

12/30/2005:
Helloween

PTI

The Crimes of Ambition

Karl Blau

Rosetta

Gary Noland

12/29/2005:
Tommy and The Terrors

Blacklisted

Bound Stems

Gary Noland

Carlo Actis Dato and Baldo Martinez

Quatuor Bozzoni

12/28/2005:
The Positions

Comet Gain

Breadfoot featuring Anna Phoebe

Secret Mommy

The Advantage

For a Decade of Sin: 11 Years of Bloodshot Records

12/27/2005:
The Slow Poisoner

Alan Sondheim & Ritual All 770

Davenport

Beaumont

Five Corners Jazz Quintet

Cameron McGill

Drunk With Joy

12/26/2005:
10 Ft. Ganja Plant

The Hospitals

Ross Beach

Big Star

The Goslings

Lair of the Minotaur

Koji Asano



Splendid looks great in Firefox. See for yourself.
Get Firefox!


FEATURES:
Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste probably didn't even know that he'd be the subject of Jennifer Kelly's final Splendid interview... but he is!



DEPARTMENTS:
That Damn List Thing
& - The World Beyond Your Stereo
Bookshelf
Pointless Questions
File Under
Pointless Questions
& - The World Beyond Your Stereo


ARCHIVE:
Read reviews from the last 30, 60, 90 or 120 days, or search our review archive.

It's back! Splendid's daily e-mail update will keep you up to date on our latest reviews and articles. Subscribe now!
Your e-mail address:    
REVIEWS | FEATURES | DEPARTMENTS | BOOMBOX | PODCAST | MISC
SEARCH:
All content ©1996 - 2011 Splendid WebMedia. Content may not be reproduced without the publisher's permission.