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Gallowsbirds Bark

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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58th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Discover this year's nominees on CD and Vinyl, including Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Best New Artist of the Year, and more. Learn more

Product Details

  • Audio CD (Sept. 23 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI Music Canada
  • ASIN: B0000CABDC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #249,013 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on 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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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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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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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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