Firewater CD review by Amanda Nichols

Music Reviews
Firewater CD review by Amanda Nichols
Jul 16, 2008, 00:49

Firewater - The Golden Hour

FIREWATER The Golden Hour CD

Most people, upon hearing the name of Firewater's years in the making new record, will have a very vivid picture in their minds as to what a golden hour could be; that brilliant moment of color in the sky before the sun sets or rises.  Ask an emergency room doctor, however, and the image is vastly different.  Someone speaking in an ER of a “golden hour” is referring to the amount of time during which a trauma victim is said to be able to receive optimum care.  Such a stark difference in the same phrase, while perhaps unintentional, is actually the very thing that makes Firewater as interesting, moving and genre defying as they've always been.

Sourced from field recordings made in a variety of locales that would make the TSA blush and the well documented adventures leading up to gathering them, Firewater do not return stateside a Ry Cooder-like figure, bravely exposing the world to dying musicians in forbidden lands.   Instead, we're presented with the view of a melancholy expatriate, more in common with Ernest Hemingway than the Buena Vista Social Club.  “So this is how it feels,” Tod A. observes, “to crawl up from the accident and die beneath your wheels,” on “6:45,” summing up both the duality of the album title and the emptiness of surviving, but just barely.

The tracks on the disc play out like a radio broadcast, occasionally with intercuts from what sounds like broadcast interviews.  Old fans of the band will no doubt be pleased with the new tune, especially the anti-Neocon “Hey Clown!” and the party at the end of the world vibe of “This Is My Life.”  Some of Firewater's favorite themes (depression, drinking, desperation and politics) reappear here, as well as meditations on leaving your old life behind.  Heavy themes, certainly, so where does the Bhangra beat fit in? Walk into any Indian restaurant worth its salt and you'll hear music banging from the stereo with that hard beat.  For all you know, the Indian singers on the tune are singing refrains from Firewater's “Electric City.” It makes sense that the group who found Eastern European/Israeli folk music enchanting in the first place would connect the dots to similarly happy-sad music in the Middle East.

Those curious about the band that brought the world Balkan Beat Box and Gogol Bordello will likely be confused by Golden Hour's source material, but fans of Bollywood, Brother Cleve and Dragonfly/The Singhs should seek this out as soon as possible.  [Bloodshot]

-Amanda Nichols


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