So, back in November or December 2009, I was browsing the used music section of the local independent music shop, and I saw a CD in a cardboard package with an intriguing cover◊. I opened it, and looked at the musicians listed, and HOLY CARP—I'd always been a sucker for any instruments beyond the standard rock band set, but it looked like I had just hit the mother lode. I went over to the listening station and liked what I heard: a glorious mishmash of East European folk styles.
There's awe-inspiring brass music on "Foni Tu Argile", "The Man Who Sold His Beard", and "Turkiye"; cimbalom (a type of hammered dulcimer) craziness on "Kertesz" and "Hummingbirds"; and accordions and violins (Stroh violin, even) throughout.
Speaking of Stroh violins, I wonder how many other instruments could be "improved" by sticking a brass amplifier on them. There are already resonator guitars, which is basically the same thing. Pianos? Accordions? Trumpets? Yo dawg, I heard you liked brass...
Only two tracks, "Kertesz" and "I am Not a Gambling Man", have any singing, and I'm glad for that. I don't dislike J. Barnes' voice, but I don't particularly like it either. The lyrics are pretty word-salady, so that's a plus.
and if you lie down by the roadside,
leave some kind of sign, by the roadside.
And track 9 is named "Vasilisa Carries a Flaming Skull Through the Forest" which is objectively awesome. Though the song itself is quite funereal for something with such a Heavy Metal name. ...Wait a second. Oh, it's Vasilisa the Beautiful! The Russian fairy tale girl who rescued Hellboy from the Baba Yaga in Darkness Calls! It all makes sense now.
Anyway, wikipedia tells me that these guys have been making this music since 2002, and that J. Barnes—the Face of the Band—used to play drums for Neutral Milk Hotel. If I have any indie or hipster cred, I'd like to take this opportunity to kill it: I have yet to listen to anything by NMH. I mean to do so, eventually.
If you only listen to one song from this album, listen to: Foni Tu Argile. I assume it's the album's first single for a reason.