Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Beirut, America

A common theme one might notice take shape at the beginning of many articles written regarding the band Beirut, is that this music, isn't for everyone. That while brilliant, unique, and talented, this band fronted by Sante Fe native Zach Condon, is for a certain kind of music listener. That his voice won't find favor with some and that the lyrical content of his music will be lost to others. From the first moment the sweet sounds of Beirut poured from my mid 1990's Altec Lansing PC speakers... I would have taken issue with those prior assessments, had I known they existed.

It is quite a statement of fact to say that the product of Beirut is going to be different for the average music listener. But to say that this music isn't for everyone, should actually just be a nice way of saying spoon fed top 40 listeners will find the quality of Beirut elusive. Not because of what this music is... but rather because of their own lack of discernment regarding what really makes great music.

With Beirut, a variety of sounds clash resulting in something magically difficult to slap a label on. Never a fan of using mixtures of other bands or artists to describe a new group to someone who hasn't heard their music before; I don't think it could be done for Beirut even if I attempted. Certainly not by using any American bands available. The most likely reason for this is the traveling of young Zach and the timing of those travels. Condon experienced late in his teen years the wonders of Europe and European folk music. Lucky for us it happened to shape his future explorations.

Strings, horns, accordions, tambourines, electronic beats, and an array of other instruments I won't even pretend to know the names of, are somehow blended together as if each one of them were invented solely as the perfect compliment to each other. While it is true some songs will take time to understand the occasionally complex lyrics, the feelings inspired by this music are instant and aggressive. The places the music will take you to are foreign and yet also home. Probably because a foreign land was the birth place of Condon's genius and yet most of what ends up being shared with us on Beirut's albums is produced in Brooklyn.

Beirut's third and latest completed work, March of the Zapotec/Holland, a double EP, shows Condon's growing depth of understanding. Not only depth in understanding what his soul wants to say through music but also the depth of possibilities involved with the kind of music he is creating. The first released single from the album, "My Night With The Prostitute From Marseille" triumphs in realizing that depth while keeping Condon's story accessible to the listener. Simple electro pop is all he needs to relate a complex series of events. Yet Condon can still drum up musical epics like "Postcards From Italy" and "The Concubine".

Currently touring through Europe one can remain hopeful that Beirut will be supporting their new double EP album in the states either late this summer or in the fall. Until we are blessed with such an announcement, the entire Beirut collection is available at i-tunes. Give the 10 songs on this page a listen and take a vacation to Europe, or to Mexico, but definitely into the heart of Zach Condon and Beirut.

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