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Gallowsbirds Bark

Fiery Furnaces Audio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 22.89
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5.0 out of 5 stars Barks and bites Feb. 27 2005
Format:Audio CD
The Fiery Furnaces seem to be the new king (and queen) of enigmatic, larger-than-life indie rock. While their second album was the one that got things moving, their debut "Gallowsbird's Bark" gained them a reputation for rich music and strange, dreamy writing.

Siblings Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger open things with the jangly, cascading pop of "South Is Only A Home" -- it's a fun little tune, but a bit chaotic-sounding. It's only in the third song, "Leaky Tunnel," that the album kicks into high gear, with banjo and electric guitar, overlaid with sparkling piano and rapid-fire percussion. Then you know that these two are something special.

Dipping into alt-country in places, the Furnaces mostly focus on trippy rock songs and catchy oddball pop songs. There's an out-and-out rocker in "Asthma Attack," a sprawling experimental stretch in "Crystal Clear," and they even try a bluesy acoustic song in "Bright Blue Tie," which only has a few flickery synth bits in the background.

Sparkly, tinkly piano, folky, dreamy, trippy, rock'n'roll and psychedelic music-hall. Those are only a few of the things that come to mind when listening to "Gallowsbird's Park." There's something oddly childlike and dreamy about this music, despite songs about how "if men and wine don't kill me." Perhaps it's the fact that their music has so many facets.

The sole problem seems to be, oddly enough, restraint. The Fiery Furnaces are not now known for their musical restraint, but in this album they seem to be damming up their larger-than-life talents. But even dammed-up, their catchy, complex blend of guitar rock, banjo, and rippling piano is intoxicating, as is the oddball additions.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good good good, good good double good Feb. 17 2004
Format:Audio CD
The Fiery Furnaces. I love the band name, I love the debut album. At the risk of sounding like an imbecile I am going to try and do the impossible and describe how this album sounds. If Tom Waits had a sister that he played music with they probabaly would have recorded an album that sounds like "Gallowsbird's Bark". People love to categorize things, well, categorize this!!There was this word that about thirteen years ago that was incorrectly used to describe just about every freaking band under the sun. Your remember the word? It was alternative.(The grammys still use this word which is further proof that they exist somewhere around the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.) Anyway, if you want to use that word, then use it here. "Gallowsbird.." is a cacophony of melodies, rhythms, and odd noises that somehow manages to be quite catchy at times, and brilliant at others. Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger make up the Furnaces. They are a brother/sister duo, and you have to believe that therein lies the secret to there ridiculously unique sound. It's probably been a product of years of experimentation. They use a number of combinations of instruments and influences to create some very unique and challenging music. I've listened to the album four times, and it gets better eevry time I hear it. The album hits it's stride on the terrific "Up in the North", which is catchier than bird flu. The track features some great piano, and is carried by Eleanor's distinctive vocals. It is impossible to dislike this song. The funky "Asthma Attack" is similarly infectious. The guitar and bass are stellar on "Asthma", which they are throughout the album. "Don't Dance her Down" is more of a traditional rock song (at least for these two it is) but just as good. Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fiery groovy lo-fi blues. Amazing debut. Jan. 25 2004
Format:Audio CD
It's always a challenge to describe a sound that fuses several musical styles. Overall 'Gallowsbird's Bark' combines garage-rock and the blues, equal parts White Stripes swagger, Guided By Voices' trashy riffs, and Velvet Undergrounds meandering guitar plucking. Eleanor Friedberger's voice is a deadringer for Patti Smith with the same passionate semi-poetic vocals. The Fiery Furnaces seem to have ripped-out the guts of rock and roll, capturing a raw version of the blues, drifting in between stripped-down folk and piano tinkling. Yet they add unconventional elements morphing into a sound that's wonderfully original. One of these is a showtune spin revolving around the piano, with the same type of theatrics as The Rocky Horror Picture Show or Meatloaf's 'Bat Out Of Hell'. Another is Krautrock's experimental use of sound/structure, subtle but unconventional enough where it slightly alters the musical formula. There's nothing that gets my juices flowing where I feel like I'm hearing something fresh, and I get that sense with Gallowsbird's Bark. Energetic, relentless, and innovative. An intoxicating debut that captures the barebone spirit of rock and roll.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Take some singing lessons! Nov. 30 2003
By D. Mok
Format:Audio CD
This band was hyped in multiple music publications, mostly because Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger bear a resemblance to Jack and Meg White of The White Stripes. But The Fiery Furnaces is nowhere near as interesting as the Stripes musically.
Eleanor Friedberger's singing is the worst I've heard this year on a record, a stiff, tonally thin bray that gets on your nerves quickly. It's not like the piercing bark of Shannon Wright, who makes it work on her uptempo songs by virtue of sheer passion. And it's not like Kathleen Edwards' lithe croon, which draws you in with gentle vibrato and superior melodies. Eleanor Friedberger just sounds like your average karaoke non-singer, with no clear sense of phrasing and enunciation, and her vocal incompetence sinks the music, which draws from certain cabaret and showtune traditions and mixes it with folkish instrumentation with a punk edge. The music could have been interesting in a do-it-yourself kind of way, but having to listen to that voice is sheer torture.
Amy Lee of Evanescence has been attacked for having undergone extensive vocal training, allegedly at the insistence of her label. Well, this kind of diligence and artistic shaping is what Eleanor Friedberger needs. And maybe she will cite "punk integrity" and continue on her current path. In which case, count me out.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Ramble On
One of the more distinctive releases of 2003, "Gallowsbird's Bark" is also one of the best. Read more
Published on July 2 2004 by Kathy Fennessy
4.0 out of 5 stars Undertones meet The Fall
That's what I thought when I bought this record on a friend's say-so. This may be useful to those of you over 40, or to those under-40 types who are familiar with the first wave of... Read more
Published on March 4 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars this cd is cooler than you...
'Gallowsbird Bark' is amazing. I love every song on this cd. I suuurre wish they would have a concert in the U.S.A. I'll be waiting. Buy this cd. Its incredible.
Published on Feb. 19 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars It's that good, honest!
Had no idea where this band was coming from when I saw them open for Ted Leo the other night. Honestly it's been a while since a band ( unknown to me) has knocked me off my feet. Read more
Published on Jan. 29 2004 by Joshua R. Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars quite original
this band is a lot of fun and quite talented. i saw them live and they gave a great show, playing a bunch of the songs on this album. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars If you have good taste, you will love this record.
The Fiery Furnaces have really got something here. Strange, propulsive music with a foxy tomboy lead singer. That is all you need.
Published on Jan. 18 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars the most interesting debut of the year
this is as quirky, fun, musical, & adventurous as anything i've heard this year...with bits of pretty much every musical style thrown in, from punk to ragtime to blues. Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars She can sing.
A previous reviewer said she couldn't sing, so I went out and bought it. What a brilliant gamble.
Published on Dec 21 2003 by "oesoco"
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great New Band
The comparison to White Stripes is unavoidable for this brother/sister band, but this album is more interesting than a Stripes album- It's more musically diverse and has more... Read more
Published on Dec 15 2003 by Tankery
1.0 out of 5 stars Or not....
And I will in turn try to save you a few hard earned bucks. Bratiness is a long revered element of rock, but when unsupported by the ability to play, sing, or write songs, it falls... Read more
Published on Dec 7 2003 by Music Addict
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