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Editor's note: We have activated the Neumu 44.1 kHz Archive. Use the link at the bottom of this list to access hundreds of Neumu reviews.

+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

44.1 kHz Archive

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The Fiery Furnaces
Blueberry Boat
Rough Trade

Singer Eleanor Friedberger looked like a spooked doll. Her big brown eyes locked onto the horizon, while her thick dark-brown bangs lay flat and long against her forehead, reaching just past her eyebrows and grabbing for the lashes. Her long fingers cupped the microphone as she sang songs from the Fiery Furnaces' stunning debut, 2003's Gallowsbird's Bark.

Friedberger's brother, guitarist/keyboardist Matthew, spit out words in the background, as if he were narrating the story, delivering spiraling guitar riffs and off-kilter keyboard sounds. I was sucked right into their curious set that rainy night last year; it was the first time I experienced the Fiery Furnaces' unusual but powerful approach.

Their quirky arrangements often feel like the unintended consequence of child's play, as if they were innocently and nonsensically experimenting with sounds. It's within the seemingly simple surface of their music that the Fiery Furnaces' creative talent lies. Their inventive, experimental-leaning music dances through history, passing from blues to rock 'n' roll to pop to experimental to something uniquely theirs.

On the surface, it's all raw and minimal, but dig deeper into their colorful, complex collage of sounds and you'll see it took much risk-taking (and talent) to piece their idiosyncratic songs together. And with their second album, Blueberry Boat, the Fiery Furnaces have taken a giant leap forward, exploring new territory rather than simply making another album just like their first.

The barroom piano-driven "I Lost My Dog" unleashes primitive drumming, '60s-style organ, acoustic guitar strums, urgent speak-singing and words that are doubtlessly symbolic. "I kicked my dog/ I was mean to him before/ I guess that's why/ He walked out my door/ I really wish/ I could see him some more."

The epic, eight-plus-minute-long "Mason City" traverses an array of sonic territories — sluggish marching beats and minimal piano, breezy handclaps and beautifully infectious melodies, screaming guitar solos and spastic background effects. "Straight Street" features Delta blues guitar and rollicking speak-singing, balancing between emotional builds and breakdowns.

The warped, bass-heavy "Paw Paw Tree" juxtaposes light, tinkering electronics against a Velvet Underground drugged-out feel, as is true with many of their songs. Backed by burning Atari electronics and slithering along with barely a melody, "Inspector Blancheflower" speaks more than it sings, atop piano that crashes in with monumental importance alongside on-again, off-again whining sound effects.

The disorienting, nagging keyboards behind "1917" might rub you the wrong way, but if you're into twisted dissonance, you'll dig another speak-sung song from Matthew, who tends to take lead on the least melodic tracks, while Eleanor's strong, sweet vocals take over where there's many a hook to grab onto.

Like true experimentalists, the Fiery Furnaces also use creative diversity within their lyricism to match the spectrum of head-scratching sounds backing them up. Their words feel like an obscure, silly adventure. The 13 tracks on Blueberry Boat speak of everything from penguins, dressing gowns and silver charms to Dairy Queens, Taiwan streams and quarantines; from sunfish, birds and oceans to ships, scotch and, of course, blueberries and boats.

The duo have followed Gallowsbird's Bark with a sophomore effort that — with its left-wing turn to the weird — far surpasses the expectations built by that drizzly Portland night where music and love happily met once again.

by Jenny Tatone

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