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Album Review

Beirut – “Gulag Orkestar ” – [Ba Da Bing]

Thurston Hunger   8/12/2006   A Library, CD

Unabashed crooning coming out from an underage ancient soul
underneath a cabaret beret with its Soviet star rising and
falling like the poles around Magnetic Fields. Or are those
Poles? Cutting their fingers on the barbed wire so they can
drip treble and clef on the hard-packed soil. Go ahead and
ride the not-so-Merry-go-round with Zach Condon, sad marches
and cheery ballads. Up and down, up and down and that weird
little imitation of life at the end? Spinning around a disco
ball? Armed with a Hack and a Handsaw, he’s packing Indie
cred, but with Ba Da Bing bouncing around, you know this is
the real deal. My personal theory is that the talented Mr.
Condon is a bit of a chameleon, able to rapidly absorb what
he discovers and loves. There’s no balking at the Balkan pop
here, captured with horns intentionally askew, which helps
to milk the ol’ Neutral Hotel. And there’s no doubt that his
choice for instrumentation, puts the quirky in Albuquerque.
Why the project is called Beirut, now that’s a riddle at this
point? Along with this one: What the hell is Julian Koster up
to these days?’ I’m late to the party on this one, it was
trapped beneath an avalanche of “see-I-quit-speed” releases
and depressing press-packed crap. Still I am loony for the
croon here and look forward to our next trip to Beirut; I’ll
bet it comes with a dramatic costume change.

-Thurston Hunger

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