Countdown to change? The Fiery Furnaces will heat up Satellite Ballroom on January 26.
Pop music boasts a rich tradition of family bands, from classic groups like The Jackson 5 and Sly and the Family Stone to the ex-husband/wife duo the White Stripes and our own Sons of Bill. Family ties just seem to lend themselves to uncanny melodies and tight beats. And that certainly holds true with The Fiery Furnaces, the Brooklyn-via-Chicago brother-sister team of Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger. Over the course of five albums, the Furnaces have hopped, skipped and jumped through every type of sound that their sibling minds can cook up.
|Listen to The Fiery Furnaces‘ "Ex-Guru":
This month the Friedbergers take that hopping and skipping to the road to support their latest record, Widow City, and on Saturday, January 26, they’ll land on Satellite Ballroom’s stage with a barrage of synths and singing. Feedback talked with Matthew to see just what they’ll be offering on this go-round, which they’ve dubbed the “Roll The Dice/Leap of Faith Tour,” referencing Bill Clinton’s comment about Barack Obama and the Illinois presidential candidate’s responding slogan. “It’s like we’re campaigning,” Matthew says, “since the tour is mostly running up to Super Tuesday.”
What we’re listening to
“Filler is Wasted,” by Snowden (from Anti-Anti)—Dark syncopation, muddy chords and deliberately awkward lyric timing. These guys don’t sound like they’d be fun to be in love with, but they have a way of renewing ol’ common time that’s off-balance and refreshing.
“Death of a Disco Dancer,” by The Smiths (from Strangeways, Here I Come)—Not your average Smiths song. Johnny Marr goes easy on guitar duty during the verses only to surge back during the outro as Top of the Fops frontman Morrissey sings, “Love, peace and harmony/ Are very nice/ But maybe in the next world.”
“American Boy,” by Estelle, featuring Kanye West (from Shine)
“Racing Like A Pro,” The National (from Boxer)
“Loving Cup,” by the Rolling Stones (from Exile on Main Street)
Campaigning for what, though? “We’re going to conduct a nonbinding caucus about what the next Fiery Furnaces record should be,” he explains. “We’ll see who wins. It’s nonbinding, though.” On the band’s website you can find the potential candidates for the album (divided into red and blue, of course), with names like Sweetheart and Co., Gangleri’s Warg and Catamite Corner. Cast your vote!
But really, what about the politics? “The tour seems to endorse a candidate,” says Friedberger, “but that’s the tour’s business. I don’t want to speak for the tour.” He did tell us, though, that the Furnaces will focus on material from the new album, with the help of Sebadoh’s Jason Loewenstein on bass and Bob D’Amico on drums. On Widow City he and Eleanor wanted to make an album with a rock rhythm section, he says, a change from the broader dabblings and sometimes overwhelming short attention span of their earlier work. “We wanted to have a record that wasn’t ’70s sounding, but full of ’70s sounds,” says Matthew, “like keyboard sounds from Stevie Wonder and drum sounds from Led Zeppelin.”
Despite their high-temperature name, The Fiery Furnaces brought some winter weather when they last played Charlottesville in 2006. “I remember there was a snowstorm,” says Matthew. “The next day I drove the van around. I’d never been to Charlottesville, so I wanted to see Mr. Jefferson’s campus.” Though we’d love to see some snowflakes, we hope no blizzards try to cool the Furnaces this time. And we’ll forgive him for saying “campus” instead of “Grounds.”
More, more, more
And speaking of TJ’s Grounds, Six Organs of Admittance will be bringing its pristine acoustic drones to the UVA Chapel this Friday, January 25. The show is presented by the folks from UVA’s Tyrannosaurus Rock and Satellite Ballroom, who also recently announced a couple great shows at Outback Lodge: Chicago stoner metal band Pelican on March 14 and Oakland electro hip-pop trio Why? on March 20 (with Feedback favorite Doofgoblin opening). And, with September’s Freakfest and December’s Noble Savages fest both fun and successful, Lance Brenner’s C-Fest will present its third throwdown, Surround Sound, on February 16 at Satellite Ballroom. The ambient, experimental and jazz festival will include Pinko Communoids, Graboids, Accordion Death Squad, The Matthew Willner Quartet, UVA Professor Judith Shatin and more. We’re also psyched for some upcoming Gravity Lounge shows: Renowned folk singer Richie Havens will play on February 7, and 106.1 The Corner will present Girlfriend in a Coma, a spot-on Smiths and Morrissey cover band, on February 29 (for free!). See you near the stage!
Accordion Death Squad and more great local acts will play Surround Sound at Satellite Ballroom on February 16.