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Gulag Orkestar
     

Gulag Orkestar

4.8 6
by Beirut
 

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The best album to come out of Albuquerque since the Shins decamped for the Pacific Northwest, the debut album by Beirut (aka New Mexico-born 19-year-old singer/songwriter Zach Condon) bears an immediate resemblance both to Denver's DeVotchKa and the current passions of the Athens, GA, crowd

Overview

The best album to come out of Albuquerque since the Shins decamped for the Pacific Northwest, the debut album by Beirut (aka New Mexico-born 19-year-old singer/songwriter Zach Condon) bears an immediate resemblance both to Denver's DeVotchKa and the current passions of the Athens, GA, crowd formerly associated with the Elephant 6 stable. Like DeVotchKa, Condon is heavily influenced by Eastern European folk music and, to a lesser extent, the mariachi trumpets and Latin rhythms of the desert Southwest: the songs on Gulag Orkestar are lousy with mandolins and similarly plinky members of the string instrument family, accordions, horns, and hand percussion clearly played with dramatic in-studio arm flourishes. But like the Athens folks (some of whom appear here in a supporting role, most notably A Hawk and a Hacksaw's Jeremy Barnes), Condon isn't interested in mere approximations of traditional forms. Condon and friends use the folk instruments primarily as really cool-sounding textures, exotic backdrops for Condon's melodic indie folk tunes and impressionistic lyrics. The lyrics, it must be said, are the album's most obvious flaw, clearly the work of a young, romantically inclined teen who has never been to Europe but has seen a lot of foreign art films about, like, Gypsies 'n' stuff. Ignore the clunky lyrics -- easy enough to do since Condon is an unexpectedly appealing singer with a rich, mellifluous voice that, no kidding, recalls the great bel canto crooners of the pre-rock era (along with a little Nick Cave) -- and Gulag Orkestar is an infinitely more appealing album.

Editorial Reviews

Billboard - Michael Ayers
Right off the bat, you realize this is serious music for serious listeners.... Traditional, while still sounding immediate.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/09/2006
Label:
Ba Da Bing
UPC:
0600197004821
catalogNumber:
48
Rank:
56854

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Gulag Orkestar 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
"...clearly the work of a young, romantically inclined teen who has never been to Europe but has seen a lot of foreign art films about, like, Gypsies 'n' stuff." actually, he claims that he travelled europe at 16 after dropping out of high school.
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