Hey, I know the internet is already abuzz with this video, as any new video from Zach Condon’s Beirut ought to bring, but it’s possible that you missed it. Newsflash: Beirut has a new album for the first time in four years coming out very soon on September 11th from 4AD, which you can preorder here, and based off “No No No” and this new single, “Gibraltar,” we’re in for something special. Whereas that first single was smooth and very jazzy, this new one as you’ll gather from the music video below, is choppy and percussive; Condon’s buttery vocals act as the lush element that strings all the distinctive elements together. Watch some of the band walk around on the beach in white below.
Although Beirut first stepped onto the musical scene five years ago, front man Zach Condon had been making music for much longer. In fact, Condon had been writing and producing music since he was a wee lad, holed up in his bedroom. So it was no real change to his life when he started producing music that others would hear; all the songs on his debut just felt like the hundreds of other songs he had already furnished. Audibly, this means a certain intimacy from the start, one that caught the attention of a large number of fans of this band, and one that continues to hold the attention of indie music aficionados with The Rip Tide.
The first song, “A Candle’s Fire,” starts off with some quiet accordion and then jumps right in to the horn’s ablazin’, jangly, folk pop that they do so well. After a brief instrumental interlude, Condon’s deep, yet alluringly nasal tones chime in, and the song carries on, backed by the rolling, marching band-sounding drums. It’s a good opening number, but it is no “Santa Fe,” or “East Harlem,” the two songs that follow it, which happen to feel like the singles for the album, as they stand out from the rest of the tracks on The Rip Tide. “Santa Fe” has synth backing that weirdly fits in with the classic instruments that Beirut introduced you to on their recent EP’s. “East Harlem,” the third track on the album, plays with the cohesive elements of Beirut’s normal sound, by having choppy percussion and constant piano carry the song.
Sadly, as this record progresses, it does not climax as all good records should, but simmers to its mediocre end. When I say mediocre with this band, it does not really mean the classic definition of boring and blegh that may apply to other music. For Beirut, a mediocre track means one that is still significantly better than what most bands produce, but with the expectations that I have for them, the tracks fall a little flat. There just isn’t that explosion into new territory that will blow a new or old listener away.
If you’ve listened to anything that Beirut has produced prior to this record, and liked it, then you will find that you will probably like this just as much. Sonically, this band doesn’t really go anywhere that far away from previous efforts, but this should not be a deterring factor; the group doesn’t go in a negative direction either. The result is a collection of songs, some better than others, which should fit nicely into your regular listening queue.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Beirut-New-Harlem.mp3]
Download: Beirut – New Harlem [MP3]
Zach Condon brought Beirut to town after playing Free Press Fest in Houston on the way to Bonaroo. New material is starting to trickle out to the intarwebs, but the older songs show no age as they are timeless. The mix of a little new material with the best of the band’s catalog made for an amazing and sweeping playlist for an artist just twenty-five years of age. Twin Sister came along for this gig at the Moody Theater at ACL Live (what I now call the Bat Cave).
More about the show and plenty of pics after the jump…
We’ve all heard for quite some time about new work from Zach and Beirut, especially considering the young man is out and about across the country this summer. Well, his first single will hit stores this Tuesday, and this track is the perfect culmination of both Condon’s past and, well, present it would seem. There’s definitely less of a nomadic troubadour trying to find his place in the global musical world, instead replacing it with touches of his previous works, while continuing to focus on his remarkable vocals. One listen to the below track will surely have anyone interested in all the future works that are sure to come our way this year.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Beirut-New-Harlem.mp3]
Download: Beirut – East Harlem [MP3]
Long before Zach Condon of Beirut presented us with his most recent output, a double EP titled March of the Zapotec and Realpeople: Holland the media presented us with a rumor of some grand orchestral scheme including bands from the Oaxacan region of Mexico. Patiently, we awaited for the arrival, of not only new tunes, but for the next set of exploratory sounds pushed out by the young genius.
Sadly, the first EP, March of the Zapotec, doesn’t really seem to be rooted into much of the Latin culture. For one, the presence of tuba and accordion definitely detract, or perhaps are more overbearing, in regards to the sound one would typically hear in quaint Mexican neighborhoods. “La Llorona,” the first real song, doesn’t even have a Latin twist at all, instead seeming like an extra piece left over from Gulag Orkestar. Maybe adding and extra layer of horns aids the cause, but very little.
The songs where he does delve into a little bit of the flavor one would come to expect from a Oaxacan regional band have little or no lyrics at all. In fact, they seem like instrumental pieces tacked on to the EP as filler, and in a way, to show that Zach indeed did follow through with his desire to include a new flavor from South of the New Mexican border, but perhaps he should have gone way mariachi because the songs on this half of the EP are lacking.
Realpeople: Holland is an entirely different step then what we are given on the first EP; instead, Zach seems to go into the bedroom, digging deeply into that box in his closet in order to pull up all those Depeche Mode bits he recorded as a young child wearing eyeliner. It’s his voice that wins you over here, which is going to be the case when juxtaposed from with the simple keyboard elements presented here.
Interestingly, some of these songs actually work well. It’s a side we, as listeners, aren’t accustomed to when listening to a Beirut product. His voice always carries a semblance of the personal touch along with it, but here the quiet behavior of electronic elements in the background make it more so than ever before. He seems almost vulnerable.
Wait, did he just loop his accordion? Is that what you hear on “The Concubine?” If so, then this part of the album definitely has showcased new direction and strengths, but still, it’s far too short to climb the walls to that spot reserved for your favorite albums. His inconsistency here leaves one questioning exactly where he can go next, as it has been quite some time since he completely won you over with his originality and style. For now, he seems to be treading water, trying new things and putting out mediocre EPs.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/01-my-night-with-the-prostitute-from-marseille.mp3]
Download: Beirut – My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille [MP3]
We here at ATH have always loved the musical stylings of Zach Condon and his band Beirut, so when they drop new music, we give it to you. Today we offer up new single “La Llorana” which is set to appear on new EP March of the Zapotec due out February 17th via Ba Da Bing Records. The EP is said to contain music from Mr. Condon’s recent trip to Oaxaca, Mexico and features backing music from 19 piece Mexican outfit The Jimenez Band. What’s your take on the new material?[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/beirut-la-llorona.mp3]
Download: Beirut – La Llorona [MP3]