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Page 31: Let's Stomping, Hopping, and Dancing With Beirut

/ Wednesday, January 19, 2011 /
It’s like you're walking and hopping in a street where grass, flowers, and trees filling up each side.
It’s like you’re in the middle of party where people gather in a circle, barefoot, smiling. Happy.
It’s the sounds you'd find during traveling, almost broke, kinda lost, but then you see some interesting marching band in parade.
It’s the song you want to hear when you’re a bit drunk; blabbering all night long, laughing at tragedy that happened in your life, and do silly dance. Until you finally throw up, fall asleep, and wake up with headache. *errr, yeah, sorta :p

It’s Beirut’s music.

I’m not a fan of ethnic music, or world music, especially Balkan folk. But I had “crush at first hears” moment with ‘Interior of a Dutch House’. And when it came to ‘Postcards from Italy’, I knew I’m in love with Beirut. And of course, with the front man, Zach Condon,
who combined traditional tone with pop music and created such a fine melodic sound. Gosh, this multi-instrumentalist is one year younger than me. Yet discovered and decided type of music he’d wanted for his project at 17. And it’s not rock, hip hop, or pop, but Balkan folk! BALKAN FOLK, which has very specific listeners. And by specific listeners I mean: not much. Not much, if you compare it to other popular genres. I mean, have you ever found a kid who’s trying to look cool and becomes the popular one in high school, and say, “My favorite music is Balkan folk...”?

Tsk. Naaaah! They’d listen to hip hop, or pop, or rock, or…else, but not Balkan folk. Yes, it’s stereotyping. But that’s what often happens. If you want girls scream your name when they see you on stage, you don’t play Balkan folk. If you want boys eager to be just like you, because they see the girls screaming hysterically when they see you, you don’t play Balkan folk. But Condon chose Balkan folk. So I guess popularity wasn’t his main goal after all. Well, but he’s blessed with cute face and a friend told me that he came from a rich family; so I think he still can be socialite. :p

Zach Condon

 Condon with mustache

Quick review for Beirut’s albums:

Gulag Orkestar (2006)
Debut album of Beirut. It has received great critical acclaim and was voted the best album of 2006 by the record store Rough Trade. Condon recorded the bulk material used for this album by himself in his bedroom. *damn. Envious.*  I love the tuneful Balkan stomp, the sounds of accordion, violins, and percussion, a menagerie of horns, a plucky ukulele lilt and God knows other instruments they used – that mixes perfectly with Condon's airy croon. I think Condon has an old man soul, who like to sipping vodka and pipe-smoking. :D
Highlights: “Postcards from Italy”, “The Canals of Our City”, “Bradenburg”, “Prenzlaurberg”.

The Flying Clup Cup (2007)
In this album, Beirut gave more portions for the sound of piano and strings provide a perfect, light-as-lashes counter to Condon's thick instrumentation. Vocal layering is the power of Beirut, although in lyrics, in my opinion, hmm..so so, compared to first album.
Highlights: "In the Mausoleum", "Guyamas Sonora", "The Penalty", "Forks and Knives (La Fête)", "Cliquot"

The band itself, formed in 2006 (five years late is better than never, right?). With the sounds of ukulele, flugelhorn, trumpet, French horn, and accordion; it is unique. A bit weird, you might say, at first trial. But listen to each song like 3-4 times if you really want to get the vibe. If it still doesn’t work, well, maybe it’s just not your kind of music. :D

Thanks to shint who introduced me to this beautifully odd sounds. Yes, sharing is caring! :D
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