Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Balkan disarmament

Play it: Beirut Gulag Orkestar
Download: "Postcards from Italy", "Mount Wroclai (Idle Days)" (Beirut Official Site)

Every once in awhile a release comes through that has folks climbing over one another to heap praise. Such a critical feeding frenzy has been buzzing in the past two weeks (especially, the blogosphere) about this release from the band Beirut. The brainchild of 19-year old Zach Condon, Beirut's Gulag Orkestar reminds one of so many favorable things, it's hard not to fall head over heels for it. Neutral Milk Hotel, Andrew Bird, Devotchka, Magnetic Fields, Jens Lekman, Gogol Bordello... you can hear bits of all these inspirations, but it's mainly the beautifully disarming Balkan Gypsy sound this blossoms from that has my ears so enamorous.

Condon, who hails from Brooklyn by way of Albequerque, has recorded 3 albums under the Beirut moniker prior to this, all in different idioms - Electronica, Doo-Wop and Electro-pop. It seems all it took was a trip to Eastern Europe to set his Gulag in motion, and one can imagine this dual-purposing as a soundtrack to his travel slideshow ("here's the girl who broke my heart in Prague...") It will be interesting to see if he sticks to this genre if it's as successful as it seems to be projected.

Back to the feeding frenzy... so many folks have been waiting so long for anything to approach In the Airplane Over the Sea, and it's no surprise that the holy album is invoked here considering NMH's Jeremy Barnes is on board in the Orkestar. I'm only bringing NMH up because the comparison is inevitable, but I implore you to ignore the comparison as the album is much more enjoyable on it's own then pretending it's like a younger brother to Jeff Magnum's opus. With the target out of site, you can lower your guns and fully appreciate it's disarming beauty.

"Mount Wroclai (Idle Days)" is NPR's song of the day

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1 comment:

drake leLane said...

Beirut Gulag Orkestar

1. The Gulag Orkestar
2. Prenzlauerberg
3. Brandenburg
4. Postcards From Italy
5. Mount Wroclai (Idle Days)
6. Rhineland (Heartland)
7. Scenic World
8. Bratislava
9. The Bunker
10. The Canals Of Our City
11. After The Curtain