The Fiery Furnaces.
Chicagos most notable new export in some time, The Fiery Furnaces, release their debut album, Gallowsbirds Bark, on Rough Trade Records on September 29th, 2003.
The Fiery Furnaces are basically Eleanor and Matt, a brother-sister duo, with Anglo-American parents. These days they live in New York which if youre in anything vaguely approaching a rock n roll group isnt such a bad idea.
The duo claim their influences include Os Mutantes (top stuff!), The Who, and Dub reggae though little evidence of these particular strains are present on Gallowsbirds Bark.
The Fiery Furnaces have recently enjoyed plenty of live action including support slots with Sleater-Kinney, French Kicks, Spoon and Mike Watt.
Rough Trade head honchos, Geoff Travis and Jeanette Lee, were so blown away by The Fiery Furnaces LP they immediately flew all the way over to NYC to see if it was true. When they found it was, they signed the group up to Rough Trade Records very quickly indeed.
The album is preceded by their first single, 'Crystal Clear', which is released on August 18th and will be available on limited clear vinyl seven inch, as well as on CD. A twisted bluesy gem, it features all the compelling elements of their distinctive sound: thrumming at the piano, wolverine-ish guitar, map-minded lyrics, overall stomping/plunking and Eleanors singular vocals.
Gallowsbirds Bark is a breathtaking moment in the history of recorded sound - a regular cornucopia of discarded & found again noise. Part diary, part manual & part mental it inhabits the small dusty areas of your mind where no one wants to go. Haunted by 60s ghosts & 70s hangers-on there is so much going on here its far too complicated a job for a simple box of nails & an expansive wooden loft floor.
Eleanor seems as happy being a young Patti Smith (albeit one whos swallowed a pocket sized Fergal Sharkey) as she is to be a slightly more surly Debbie Harry (with shades of Ari Up). All around her, brother Matt slops dollops of dirty guitars & wonky piano. Theres an inner city dusty backwoods approach going down here thats about as off the wall as a ceiling. Imagine Pavement attempting The Basement Tapes with Dame Darcy on vocals & youre nowhere near.
The Fiery Furnaces have a fairly angular approach to the lyrical content & titling of their songs too: Asthma Attack, Two Fat Feet, Dont Dance Her Down & Gale Blow, amongst others, provide ample evidence of a slightly warped sense of humour at play. Wilful eclecticism comes as standard with The Fiery Furnaces.
There are references to the duos English roots, notably to the Millennium Dome on Leaky Tunnel, cricket on Inca Rag/Name Game & playing cards in England on Dont Dance Me Down.
Following hard on the heels of the NYC Garage Rock Scare, The Post Punk Funk Axis & The Anti Folk scene, its heart warming to report that the latest, most exciting new group out of New York owns absolutely no records by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Gang Of Four or Patrick Fitzgerald. Gallowsbirds Bark is set to become the cult LP of 2003 & The Fiery Furnaces will be fair warming the cockles of a heart near you before you can say, does anyone remember The Delta 5? The Fiery Furnaces will play their debut UK dates in London with their four-piece band in August & will return in September to play the Rough Trade 25th Anniversary event. Regional shows are currently being planned.
Evan Halshaw tMx11 Aug 03