ALBUM REVIEW: Eleanor Friedberger – Rebound

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Eleanor Friedberger was the voice of the quirky and inventive Fiery Furnaces before going it alone. Now onto her fourth solo album, she’s more than established herself as a fine songwriter and clearly decided to stretch out into some new sonic territory on the more electronically textured Rebound.

Eschewing the knotty indie guitar sound, she’s delved into a more synthetic world of drum machines, keyboards and melancholic music that references the sadder side of 80s pop but is in no way a nostalgia exercise. There’s a patina to the music whereby the songs sound lush and contemporary with one foot in simple melodic pop and the other in the art-pop world of artists like Stereolab. 

The single Make Me A Song is as catchy as anything she’s done in the past and demonstrates her playful wordplay and consistently infectious way with a chorus hook. The downbeat thrum of Nice To Be Nowhere recalls both Julee Cruise and Jack Ladder in its plaintive soft focus sway while Are We Good dances with a playful kosmiche pulse. Her use of electronic sounds add a warmth to these songs rather than colder machine-like qualities. It’s a re-housing of her songs in a new setting and she’s again matched it with sensitive and astute songwriting.

Chris Familton

LIVE REVIEW: Eleanor Friedberger, Noire, Georgia Mulligan @ NSC, Sydney 16/06/16

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Almost until the moment the headliner stepped on-stage this threatened to be one of those gigs where punters just don’t turn up – for an artist with a relatively established fanbase and on her first solo tour with a band. Thankfully Eleanor Friedberger’s fans crept out of the woodwork at the last minute and, though the venue was only half full, they were a warm and receptive audience.

The late rush did mean that both support acts played to each other, a small coterie of friends and some early arrivals. Georgia Mulligan was playing her first show with a band and it was a fine set with a balanced addition of drums and bass to her smoky, slow-burning songs which always seem to sit right in the pocket and showcased her singular and emotive voice. Noire took things in a postmodern indie pop direction. You can hear shades of Beach House and The xx bathed in a dreamy wash of reverb. They showed a fine range of guitar riffs amid the mostly mid-paced songs but unfortunately the vocals were mixed way to low to really get a handle on Noire as songwriters.

Eleanor Friedberger is now three albums deep in her solo career and that gave her set a rewarding mix of old and new songs plus a Cate Le Bon cover. Between professing her love for Sydney and recalling a week-long bicycle adventure around the city on a previous visit, she delivered song after song with her trademark on-point and quirky turns of phrase, breezy strumming and the occasional jagged interlude. Because I Asked You, Girl With The Curly Hair were two highlights form the recently released New View, as were My Mistakes and I Knew from earlier albums. With her trademark shaggy fringe, worn jeans and a striped shirt she cut a striking figure, somewhere between understated rock star and beat poet – which pretty much sums up her music. It was in intimate performance that reinforced the notion that simplicity in music is sometimes the most effective way to present ones songs and connect with an audience.

Chris Familton

DS Favourite Songs of 2013

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It’s always a mighty challenge to narrow down all the songs you’ve heard in one year and slot them into order on a nice tidy list of 20. I’m sure I’ve missed a handful of gems but these are all songs that have either captured my imagination, feet, ears or all of the above and made me think “damn that is a great song”.

1. Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener

2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street

3. Houndmouth – Penitentiary

4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – So Good At Being In Trouble

5. Bad//Dreems – Caroline

6. Wooden Shjips – Everybody Knows

7. Kirin J Callinan – Victoria M

8. Ooga Boogas – Sex in the Chillzone

9. Ducktails – Under Cover

10. TV Colours – Beverly

11. Popstrangers – Heaven

12. Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys – Any Day Now

13. Eleanor Friedberger – When I Knew

14. Sharpie Crows – Thanks You Ladies For The Spread

15. Bill Callahan – Small Plane

16. Neko Case – Night Still Comes

17. Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture of You

18. Arcade Fire – We Exist

19. Suede – Barriers

20. Depeche Mode – Heaven

Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street

Houndmouth – Penitentiary

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – So Good At Being In Trouble

Bad//Dreems – Caroline

Wooden Shjips – Everybody Knows

Kirin J Callinan – Victoria M

Ooga Boogas – Sex in the Chillzone

Ducktails – Under Cover

TV Colours – Beverly

Popstrangers – Heaven

Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys – Any Day Now

Eleanor Friedberger – When I Knew

Suede – Barriers

Sharpie Crows – Thanks You Ladies For The Spread

Bill Callahan – Small Plane

Neko Case – Night Still Comes

Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture of You

Arcade Fire – We Exist

Depeche Mode – Heaven

ALBUM REVIEW: Eleanor Friedberger | Personal Record

by Chris Familton

Rating8square-600-2Eleanor Friedberger has followed up her 2011 debut album relatively quickly and for that we should be thankful as it continues where that record left off with razor sharp observations of life and love in her typically infectious and deceivingly poetic manner.

The four year hiatus of The Fiery Furnaces has been a golden period for Friedberger, allowing her to spread her wings independently from her brother Matthew and prove the strength of her own writing. Personal Record is an album that overflows with effortless melodic hooks in songs pitched somewhere between jerky new wave and 70s power pop with noticeable yet subtle use of new instrumentation and arrangements. Her knack of writing songs that sound instantly familiar with verses and choruses tumbling into one another or gently drifting along with compositional ease is as strong as ever.

The Strokes-ish guitar chug of When I Knew is an early highlight that captures that moment of realisation that you’ve made a mistake in love. She cleverly wraps her verses around music related moments like listening to a specific album or bonding over a band, all in her trademark quick fire delivery. I’ll Never Be Happy Again drops gears into a wistful mood with equally engaging results while Echo or Encore offers up a delicate and restrained chorus between shuffling latin drums and guitar that tugs gently on devotional heartstrings. She’s a Mirror marries Hall & Oates with Dexy’s Midnight Runners in a playful romp bursting with her clever rhyming couplets.

There is barely a weak track among the dozen here and Friedberger’s ability to sound so direct while still trading in intellectual dissections of human relationships is what makes Personal Record such an engaging and relatable album.

this review was first published in Drum Media and on The Music

 

2013 MID YEAR FAVOURITE ALBUMS

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Here we are again at list time, halfway through 2013 and already there have been a swathe of great albums released. We’ve been listening to an eclectic mix of stuff as usual including dub electronica, skronking freeform saxophone, abrasive art rock, retro-leaning post punk and heartstring americana. These are the records we’ve loved the most from what we’ve heard this year. There will be others from the last six months that we’ll discover as the rest of the year rolls out but we can at least highly recommend these ones – in no particular order…

  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away
  • Protomartyr – No Passion All Technique
  • The Phoenix Foundation – Fandango
  • Kirin J Callinan – Embracism
  • The Drones – I See Seaweed
  • Fat Freddy’s Drop – Blackbird
  • Jason Isbell – Southeastern
  • DJ Koze – Amygdala
  • Eleanor Friedberger – Personal Record
  • Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol 3: To See More Light
  • Zomby – With Love

NEW MUSIC: Eleanor Friedberger | Stare at the Sun

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Eleanor Friedberger’s debut solo album Last Summer was a fantastic collection of quirky songs that showed she can easily step out of the shadow of Fiery Furnaces and command a stage and a full album with her own songs. The good news is that is set to continue with her new album Personal Record, due out via Merge on June 4th.

After the tracklisting you can check out the first song to come from the new album, Stare at the Sun.

01 I Don’t Want to Bother You
02 When I Knew
03 I’ll Never Be Happy Again
04 Stare at the Sun
05 Echo or Encore
06 My Own World
07 Tomorrow Tomorrow
08 You’ll Never Know Me
09 I Am the Past
10 She’s a Mirror
11 Other Boys
12 Singing Time

LIVE REVIEW: Eleanor Friedberger @ The Famous Spiegeltent, Sydney (28/01/12)

written by Chris Familton

Eleanor Friedberger only recently stepped out from her regular role in The Fiery Furnaces with last years solo debut Last Summer yet there were no solo nerves evident when she stepped into the late afternoon light of the Spiegeltent stage. Not even a delayed start due to a malfunctioning guitar lead could unsettle her as she set about showcasing some of the highlights of the aforementioned LP alongside some themed covers and dips into Furnaces territory.

My Mistakes set the mood early with its relationship dissecting lyrics overflowing with delightful turns of phrase and clever wordplay. Friedberger’s strength lies in her ability to shape standard song fare into hyper-observant critiques of life and quirky stories of people and places. She balanced those lyrical abilities with her way with melody that sounds both unique and familiar. On songs like Heaven and the brilliant Inn of The Seventh Ray she effortlessly guided jerky, syncopated verses into rolling, hummable choruses that hung in the Spiegeltent air.

With only the one album under her belt Friedberger fleshed her set out with a trio of Dallas, Texas themed covers. Spoon’s Trouble Comes Running, Buddy Holly’s Dearest and Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s Dallas were all given the Friedberger treatment and it was fascinating how such disparate songs could sound so much like her own songs. Between songs there were some amusing insights into their inspiration and meaning alongside tales of an abandoned military base in Sydney, singing on a ferry and her relationship with her manager. What made this performance so endearing was Friedberger’s casual approach (complete with fluffed chords) and lack of pretentiousness when her songs could easily lend themselves to arch literary posturing. She left us with The Fiery Furnaces’ Tropical Ice-Land proving her solo work is easily a match for her greatest moments in that band.

this review was first published in The Drum Media