- Audio CD (May 9 2006)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Revolver / Ba Da Bing!
- ASIN: B000F5GO0A
- In-Print Editions: Audio CD | LP Record
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #17,924 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
|1. The Gulag Orkestar|
|4. Postcards from Italy|
|5. Mount Wroclai (Idle Days)|
|6. Rhineland (Heartland)|
|7. Scenic World|
|9. The Bunker|
|10. The Canals of Our City|
|11. After the Curtain|
Only 19 and already a (blog) superstar, Zach Condon, a.k.a. Beirut, is one Web phenom worth the praise. His debut album, Gulag Orkestar, is a mix of Eastern European whimsy and old-fashioned indie-rock wailing. This Internet exclusive predates the material on that album, and its production is a bit ''home demo,'' but the chintzy drum-machine beat, yodel-y background vocals, and muted trumpet are charming all the same. Condon sounds well beyond his teens, as his Rufus Wainwright-type croon hints at many a bewildered hangover. Download the track for free courtesy of Beirut's site.
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Top Customer Reviews
This new band consists of teenage musician Zach Condon, along with people from Neutral Milk Hotel and A Hawk and a Hacksaw, making bittersweet folkpop and danceable marches. Imagine a band of slightly drunk gypsies on parade, and you'll have the general idea of how it sounds.
It opens slow, with a gentle piano and blaring horns. The title track meanders in circles and finally dies away... only to be reborn as a swaying march. Halfway through, Condon joins in with some mournful wails and equally mournful singing. That turns around in "Prenzluerberg," where the singing is just as melancholy, but the music is a cheerier march.
From there on, the trio tries out those styles and everything in between -- rattly folk with tambourines and horns, danceable folkpop, and tinkly klezmer music. Yes, tinkly klezmer. They get downright happy in "Scenic World," a colorful glockenspiel song that is just barely grounded by some quick violins.
After that, "Gulah Orkestar" is pretty upbeat, with a string of swaying marches and upbeat folk acoustics. The album's finale is a bit of a head-scratcher, though. "After the Curtain" is a relatively bare-bones song with Condon singing over applause and a dancing glockenspiel. I don't know how to fit that one in.
And it's a good thing Condon's musical talents are being backed by experienced musicians, so we can get a bittersweet, atmospheric taste of whatever he heard there. The main problem is that the less folky songs don't really fit in -- without them, the album would have been a lot better. But as it is, it's a remarkable achievement.
Condon has a pretty deep voice for someone so young, and he fills it with the longing and beauty that traditional singing often has. And he's assisted by some very talented musicians: Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost, both of whom work in the psych-folk band A Hawk and a Hacksaw. So of course, they have a good ear for this sort of thing.
So how do they manage? Soundwise, it's like someone took the gypsy out of Gogol Bordello and slapped it on Neutral Milk Hotel. The songs are brimming with violins, horns, accordion, mandolin, pianos, ukeleles, glockenspiel and many others. These instruments are so smoothly blended that it sounds like at least a dozen people are playing at any one time, and that they've played this music their whole lives.
"Gulag Orkestar" is a pretty, heart-tugging album that will make you think of quaint European villages in the springtime. Definitely worth listening to, many times.
I bought this album after listening to one track ("Postcards From Italy") I found on some obscure snobby music website and I am extremely glad I went with a gut instinct.
This album is the result of a now Brooklyn-based nineteen year old Zach Condon's most likely drunken adventures in Europe. He quit high school in Albuquerque at the age of sixteen and travelled the continent. Along the way somewhere, he was exposed to Balkan gypsy music and became entranced by it. When he eventually returned to the US, he began creating an album using organs, horns, violins, cellos, ukuleles, mandolins, clarinets, you name it. Adding his own unique vocal talent and with help from Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeremy Barnes and A Hawk & A Hacksaw's Heather Trost, he creatively combined the gypsy feel of Eastern European and folk music into "Gulah Orkestar". The songs on this album are both uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time. Condon's deep, haunting, mature, almost "crooning" voice will captivate you long before you realise you're swaying along to the swelling string and brass instrumentals. I, personally, think "Gulag Orkestar" would appeal to anyone who enjoys traditional and modern folk music, and music involving elaborate backing sounds/instrumentals. Fans of Jens Lekman, The Magnetic Fields, Sufjan Stevens, and possibly Devendra Banhart should definately give this one a try!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com
But it plays well
In one song it has a little brush..