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+ 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
Bitter Tea
Rough Trade/Shock

Those Fiery Friedberger siblings have long let it be known that they will not sit still. Even if they have to battle their record label, they will still knock out their live shows in under an hour with nary a pause, will still have the next album ready before the prior one's released, and will still pursue their goal of wanting to make as many records as they possibly can. We love such enthusiasm, energy, and blatant disregard for biz protocols, but such a stand shouldn't be confused with a devotion to their artistry. Because it's starting to seem like the Fiery Furnaces aren't the hardest working band in rock 'n' roll, just the fastest.

Their fourth longplayer, Bitter Tea, is such an easy riff on their now-established templates — Matthew on clamoring piano, Eleanor on off-the-cuff non-sequiturs — that it borders on lazy indulgence, showing worrying signs that the Fiery Furnaces are on an artistic slide they may have little interest in arresting. After their densely-layered debut disc, Gallowsbird's Bark, proved to be that rarest of records — the mythical Sleeper, where the music's genius is revealed with more clarity on each repeated exposure — the duo have strayed further and further from the Sleeper standard with each album, being more immediate, but less manic, less cluttered, less intriguing, less impressive. Where that first-turn gear delighted in compressing countless ideas into songs that radically reinvented themselves as they went, Bitter Tea isn't so tightly wound. In fact, for a band whose live shows are unbelievably well-drilled, this is a loose, directionless set. Coming on the high-concept heels of their ridiculous radio-play musical Rehearsing My Choir, it's strange to hear the Furnaces functioning with so little focus. Bitter Tea offers immediacy, but little reward for return visits; offers vastness — at a dawdling 73 minutes — but nothing in the way of big ideas. Albums like these are often touted as being "one for the fans," but, as paid-up FFs fan, I'm more interested in their albums being amazing than just plentiful.

by Anthony Carew

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