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Widow City

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Oct. 9 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Thrill Jockey
  • ASIN: B000V1MMIQ
  • In-Print Editions: Audio CD  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #140,072 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. The Philadelphia Grand Jury
2. Duplexes Of the Dead
3. Automatic Husband
4. Ex-Guru
5. Clear Signal From Cairo
6. My Egyptian Grammar
7. The Old Hag Is Sleeping
8. Japanese Slippers
9. Navy Nurse
10. Uncle Charlie
11. Right By Conquest
12. Restorative Beer
13. Wicker Whatnots
14. Cabaret Of the Seven Devils
15. Pricked In the Heart
16. Widow City

Product Description

Product Description

There are few things in life as exhilarating as a new album by The Fiery Furnaces. Establishing themselves as one of rock music's most consistently engaging, exciting and thought-provoking bands, The Fiery Furnaces made up of core brothersister duo Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger are well-versed in creating an album that manages to balance melody, originality, and a seemingly endless arsenal of instrumental ideas. Since their debut, Gallowbird's Bark, was released in 2003, The Fiery Furnaces have challenged the notion of what makes a song, weaving aural fragments into tenminute- long opuses that take any number of melodic turns. Their songs often transcend categories redefining the pop song through their rapidly changing tempos and inventive sound selections- almost as quickly as Eleanor can spit out proper noun-laced lyrical gems, often so otherworldly, that they border on magical realism. While the band's sixth LP, Widow City, is rooted in the Furnaces' aesthetic of challenging conventional notions of timing and song structure, the record is absolutely unlike any other LP in their expansive and brilliant repertoire. In fact, Widow City, their first for Chicago's renowned Thrill Jockey Records, features some of the finest, catchiest Furnaces compositions to date. We'd be up for putting money on it if you don't agree.


On their fifth full length (and first for indie stalwarts Thrill Jockey), Fiery Furnaces have finally made an album that reconciles their need to make literate, strangely fashioned art-pop with their pummeling and super rocked-out live shows. It's tempting to wish that at least a few of these puzzling tunes could have fewer parts and to concentrate on the pleasant melodic elements more, or maybe just not switch back and forth between the piano-based songs and the guitar-based ones. But that's a bit like showing up at a MENSA party and complaining that folks are using too many big words; baroque, over-fashioned, and over-thought post-modern pop is what this duo does. On Widow City, the good-looking brother-sister team does it better than they ever have. This record's delightful and wholly original; no one else could possibly have made it. Reveling in a playground based on distorted riffs and deep space synths from the era of "album rock," their distended sounds swim about like hundreds of liberated sea monkeys. --Mike McGonigal

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Top Customer Reviews

By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Oct. 12 2007
Format: Audio CD
After exploring just about everything else, the Fiery Furnaces have embraced their inner indie-rocker.

And their sixth full-length album "Widow City" weaves together music-hall, electronic pop, and a twisted, colourful brand of rock'n'roll. It's more angular and jagged than anything they've done before, like a hard-rock band that took acid in a children's museum.

It opens with sharp drums and a tight, sputtery riff. For one horrible moment it sounds like they've abandoned their signature sound for more "typical" rock music...

.... then the melody fills with piano, flute, keyboard and sharp thickets of synth, and you know they haven't lost their touch, or their electro-music-hall trappings. It's a wonderfully dark pop song, especially when Eleanor Friedberger turns cynical about a court's decision ("We already know/there ain't no suspense/That the Philadelphia Grand Jury strings me up").

The songs that follow are just as dense, intense and strange: gurgling electropop, thundering rock clouds, fuzzy fast pop melodies, drum explosions, quirky experimentals, bouncy schizophrenic pop melodies, driving powerpop with circus edges, and roiling combinations of electro-rock and psychedelic music-hall -- basically, any and all combinations of their past work.

In fact, if "Widow City" has an overriding flaw, it's that it's almost TOO densely packed. Since the melodies are catchier, the Friedberger siblings apparently compensated by smashing loads of quirky instrumentation around typical rock rhythms. It's a lot to digest all at once -- try listening to it one or two songs at a time, to get the full effect.

Yeah, there are angular guitars, drums and basslines, especially in songs like "Clear Signal From Cairo" and "Navy Nurse.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa5602318) out of 5 stars 17 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5616d5c) out of 5 stars YES, just YES Oct. 26 2007
By Johnny Utah - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This album has completely exceeded all expectations. My background with this band is: Gallowsbirds Bark: LOVE IT, EP: LOVE IT, Blueberry Boat: HATE IT, Bitter Tea: LUKEWARM, Grandma Album: NEVER HEARD IT.

Here I was hoping for a return to the more straightforward and rocking Gallowsbirds Bark/EP type of stuff, but this is even better... they've somehow managed to take all of the freaky weird prog stuff, meld it with some dirty guitar and raw banging drums, and produced this: an endless cornucopia of tweaked-out curio that walks the perfect line between out there and in there. The weirdness has now been taken to a whole new level. Like Michael Jackson surpasses the bad barrier to become good again, the Fiery Furnaces have surpassed the weird barrier to become... Im not sure, but it just seems a LOT more palatable now.

It probably has to do with the guitar: Bitter Tea suffered from a lack of it. They also seem to have gotten a better grip on song lengths: both Bitter Tea and Blueberry Boat suffered from songs that went on at least 2 or 3 minutes too long. The genre hopping is still intact, but it's way more fun this time around: at points, Widow City almost sounds like Ween cubed, complete with kooky slowed-down vocals (but less the overuse of backwards ones, thankfully).

One thing I disagree with that I've read in other reviews is that this album should be enjoyed in small doses. NO WAY! To me, this needs to be listened to in its entirety, preferably on a good set of headphones. The centerpiece as I hear it is "Navy Nurse", it builds up to that point, and then the chorus kicks in and it's pure bliss. Right there it just smacks you over the head how sweet this stuff is, and that's not to say that "Navy Nurse" is the best song... in fact, there really isn't a weak song to be found here.

My only complaint with Widow City is the way it ends. The abrupt ending doesn't work for me here.... a drawn out chord would have been better, allowing a few seconds to digest this aural feast.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5616fa8) out of 5 stars definitely my favorite thus far Oct. 9 2007
By Ron Nichol - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I love these guys. It's so awesome to have a band working in the rock idiom and yet bringing so much of their own thing to it. They take some unbelievable risks that aren't always entirely successful (e.g. grandma) but when they do the payoff is well worth it. 'Widow City' is the Fiery Furnaces album I've been waiting for. It captures the heavy rock sound of their live shows, mixes in the resourceful sonic exploration of their studio work and applies it to some fantastic new material. It's a wonderful record, albeit a demanding one. Such a dense piece of work, you might feel like you've gotten the point by the middle. Just give it a rest, go outside and listen to the birds chirp for awhile, and then come back and start from where you left off. Don't give up on it until you've given the Zeppelin stomp of "Navy Nurse" or the Beatles via Mutantes "Restorative Beer" a chance to sink in. Definitely some of their absolute best material. And of course it's always a pleasure to hear Eleanor Friedberger's singing. I don't know how she pulls off some of the phrasing her brother throws at her. Her decidedly unfashionable (i.e. un-Feisty) vocals aren't going be heard in any ipod commercials anytime soon, but she's capable of some really challenging and truly beautiful work. I'm just so happy a record like this came about. It's so easy to get down on music in general these days (Britney this, RIAA that) but this album (for me at least) is a real affirmation of how great rock music has been and continues to be.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa561a204) out of 5 stars There's really no one like the fiery furnaces Oct. 19 2007
By Jasper Mcworthy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I can't help but be surprised by these guys at every album they release and they release so many. Matthew Friedberger even has a few solo releases that are even nuttier. They are one of the most original and interesting groups making music today. Because you can't pin them down, you can't describe them to people you just have to force them to listen. Even turned down low so you can talk to people in the car, you can't but help hear amazing changes, quick piano bits, a hard rockout guitar riff or a crazy bass driven melodic rhythm. Eleanor really has a unique voice and just floats through every track, driven by whatever it is that motivates her and I'm sure it's something no one can now but her and her talented brother, Matthew
I really like the EP album and Bluberry Boat a lot but this, I think the more I hear it sticks with me. They've found a wonderful new creative level and I hope they never stop making records cause I'll surely have to keep buying them, just like a tv show you just have to know where it's going, the same with them, I can't wait to see what they do next.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa561a480) out of 5 stars Quirky, creative, fun rock / pop Oct. 21 2007
By Thomas Thomsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a very entertaining and enjoyable album. Those complaining about the state of the music industry need to disregard top 40 music and look elsewhere. The new releases by Iron And Wine (The Shepherd's Dog) and Devendra Banhart (Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon), as well as The Church's Uninvited Like The Clouds are also excellent, beautiful pieces of art.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa561a774) out of 5 stars New fan of Fiery Furnaces Oct. 12 2007
By Christopher L. Waroff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
When I first heard the Fiery Furnaces, I wasn't sure what to make of them. I definitely found them to be creative and original, but I found some of their songs annoying. But I am addicted to this album and find myself revisiting previous albums and now I have thier whole collection. I think this album is superior to Bitter Tea, because it seems more focused. Also, it has many elements that appeal to my taste: progressive rock, melody, unpredictability, and overall weirdness. Great album from one of the most original bands of the 2000's.