Thursday, December 01, 2005
cigarettes and alcohol
The Fiery Furnaces first album ‘Gallowbirds Bark’ pushed all the right buttons with me. I had no background info about them, they could have been an arts collective from Loughborough for all I knew.
I just loved the ferocious guitar playing, plunky keyboard, lolloping beats, and distracted female vocals. I guess looking back now it was nothing particularly big or clever, just twisted lumps of rough-edged folksy noise:
Asthma Attack - The Fiery Furnaces
Two Fat Feet - The Fiery Furnaces
So I found out a bit about them - Brother/ Sister duo, Matt and Eleanor Friedberger, based in NYC. Seemed to have a pretty cool attitude to what they were doing. “Great” I thought in a slightly ironic but hopeful thirty-something way, “I’m on the edge! I have a NEW FAVOURITE SUPER-WEIRDO ALTERNATIVE BAND” I listened to the album a lot and looked forward to future releases.
Well I have to confess that I have since found it unfashionably hard to love the two albums which followed. My inner teenager won’t give up trying though.
You know how it works: some music you don’t ‘get’ straight away and you have to WORK on it. It’s like when you were 14 and you forced yourself to like the taste of beer and cigarettes. The good things in life don’t always come easy. So I sat down and listened to ‘Blueberry Boat’ many, many times.
Chris Michaels - The Fiery Furnaces
It’s got good bits don’t get me wrong... but as a whole the album grated. I should have been thrilled by the myriad shifts and turns within each ‘song’. I should have appreciated the sonic textures and unpredictable lyrics. I just found it (mostly) irritating and worrying, like being in a music room full of ADHD kids. It made me long for something more boring.
The following album ‘Rehearsing My Choir’ looked good on paper, one critic wrote that it was ‘almost zappa-esq’ in its storytelling ambitions (how could I not love it?) Working with their Gran to create a ‘rock opera’ about her life!? Radical! Crazy! I bought it, listened really hard and it really got on my nerves.
Still my new favourite band? No, but they are interesting.
Will I buy the next record? Probably.
(I have now mostly given up smoking but can still fully recommend the taste of beer.)