November 9, 2009

Fanfarlo shimmers and spins :: “Just let the comets lead the way”


We need to talk about Fanfarlo. Seriously.

Despite listening to this album almost nonstop for the last few months, you and I haven’t yet delved into the full-scale conversation that their debut album Reservoir so clearly deserves. One of my favorite releases of 2009, this British/Swedish 6-piece has crafted a joyously shimmering album that arches and soars, and thumps compellingly through the speakers.

reservoir fanfarloReservoir was recorded late last year at Peter Katis’ Tarquin Studios (whose producer’s hand has also lent texture to some of my favorite albums lately, by bands like The National and Frightened Rabbit – “using all the colors“). Combining their youth and enthusiasm with Katis’ seasoned treatment gives us a gorgeous result.

Fanfarlo’s songs use a hugely expressive palette of instruments, heavy on the shiny trumpets, the dazzling saws and accordion, perforated at all the right places with pounding bass drums and quirky time-shifts in the beat. One of my favorite songs on the album is the flawlessly crafted “Comets” that waveringly coalesces at the beginning and end, like the deepening twilight and the stars appearing, wrung tightly with an almost tangible melancholy. “Harold T. Wilkins” is absolutely the best driving and yelling song all year, maybe all decade (“they’re trying to say – SAY!! they’re trying to say — SAY!!”). It feels good all the way down to your toes. The whole album dazzles the ears, and sounds just as delicious on a quiet Saturday morning as it does on a Friday night.

There is a large dose of Arcade Fire’s jubilance, but with a greater effervescence (like a sheer wash of fluorescent color dripping down) and it is uncanny how the swoops and lilts of Simon Balthazar’s voice evoke a young David Byrne. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Ghosts – Fanfarlo
Harold T Wilkins – Fanfarlo

And just in case their well-placed affinity for the song structures of Neutral Milk Hotel isn’t apparent enough, check their recent terrific cover of “In An Aeroplane Over the Sea.”

shows_ive_seenWIN TICKETS! I have a grip of tickets to give away to Fanfarlo’s Denver show, this Friday the 13th at Moe’s, to celebrate the launch of their national tour. It’s one of the most hotly-anticipated shows of my year. Please email me if you would like to win a pair, and I will let you know by Wednesday night if you can get your dancing shoes on, or bowling shoes, as it may be. There are lanes next door and if you’re brave enough, we’ll play (when we’re done singing along).

Nov 9 – Schubas Tavern – Chicago, IL
Nov 11 – Triple Rock Social Club – Minneapolis, MN
Nov 13 – Moe’s BBQ – Englewood (Denver), CO
Nov 14 – The State Room – Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 16 – Knitting Factory – Boise, ID
Nov 17 – Crocodile Cafe – Seattle, WA
Nov 18 – The Media Club – British Columbia
Nov 19 – Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR
Nov 20 – Great Basin Brewing Co. – Sparks, NV
Nov 22 – Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco, CA
Nov 23 – The Echo – Los Angeles, CA
Nov 24 – The Casbah – San Diego, CA
Nov 27 – Muddy Waters – Santa Barbara, CA
Nov 29 – Club Congress – Tucson, AZ
Nov 30 – Sante Fe Brewing Co – Santa Fe, NM
Dec 2 – The Independent – Austin, TX
Dec 3 – The Loft – Dallas, TX
Dec 4 – Walter’s On Washington – Houston, TX
Dec 6 – The Bottletree – Birmingham, AL
Dec 9 – Metro Gallery – Baltimore, MD
Dec 10 – Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA
Dec 11 – IOTA – Arlington, VA
Dec 12 – Brillobox – Pittsburgh, PA
Dec 14 – Majestic Cafe – Detroit, MI
Dec 15 – El Mocambo – Toronto
Dec 16 – Il Motore – Montreal
Dec 17 – T.T. The Bear’s – Cambridge, MA
Dec 18 – Webster Hall – New York, NY

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  • I concur! Really one of the best albums of 2009.
    I saw them Saturday night in Paris and their show was fantastic.

    phd — November 9, 2009 @ 7:23 am

  • I moved this album from my primary Amazon wish list to a “Maybe” list a couple of months ago. I just moved it back to my primary list. Not sure what I didn’t hear then that I clearly hear now.

    andrew — November 9, 2009 @ 9:41 am

  • saw them in london back in august, and i’m really excited to see them in a more intimate setting soon

    tmpn — November 9, 2009 @ 10:49 am

  • The sample tracks are truly fab, and I know what you mean about early David Byrne, though I confess I’ve not heard the album yet. But, gotta say the cover of “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” sounds pretty mediocre. I’ve heard a similar quality of music from a group of pals in a student dorm.

    Dave H — November 9, 2009 @ 1:04 pm

  • I’m sorta jealous of the fact you get to stuff your face with BBQ pig and a Fat Tire before you see the show. Such a nice, sweaty lil joint. Get ‘em good and ready for their Salt Lake show the next night, m’kay?

    Dainon — November 9, 2009 @ 3:46 pm

  • Yeah. Fantastic record. Think the constant arcade fire comparisons have had a negative impact though.

    manmeetdinosaur — November 9, 2009 @ 3:53 pm

  • dainon, yes. and the only thing to enhance that BBQ and fat tire would be you! then i could kick your ass at bowling too. sigh. i’ll send them merrily your way for saturday night.

    and manmeetdinosaur: a negative impact, how so? i hear it ALL over that album, although, like i said, it strikes me as a little brighter.

    browneheather — November 9, 2009 @ 5:12 pm

  • [...] covering of “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea.” It’s amazing. I first saw it thanks to Heather at Fuel for Friends. You can see it there or at the band’s blog. Or both: it’s well worth watching at least [...]

    Music is the Best « Changing Way — November 10, 2009 @ 10:29 am

  • I saw them last night in Chicago. Solid show and they did a great job (considering they had just gotten off a plane from Paris). The real surprise of the evening was Freelance Whales – the opener. I haven’t seen that much energy on stage since I saw EAOD. You’re in for a treat Heather!

    Brian — November 10, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

  • Kind of sounds like The Tallking Heads and The Libertines had a bastard, love child. Nice.

    Ray — November 11, 2009 @ 9:40 am

  • Passing thru via Replikate….glad I did.

    Mike — November 17, 2009 @ 9:44 am

  • hi mike! welcome! i love katie and replikate and all things clifford. so whee!

    browneheather — November 17, 2009 @ 10:03 am

  • Got tickets for their NYC show on your recommendation. Looking forward to it.

    KC — November 22, 2009 @ 1:53 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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