Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Night Video

This weekly segment has tilted heavily towards Brooklyn-based acts of late, and who can blame me? There's little argument that Brooklyn is the epicenter of indie music---good, bad, original, derivative, precious, pretentious, and otherwise. All of it can be found in New York's most populous, most talent-laden borough. On Wednesday night I went to a Haiti benefit concert at The Bell House in Brooklyn, a fantastic venue which showcased a lengthy and diverse list of acts. I'll try and scratch out a review of that show this weekend, but there was one group which left an indelible impression upon me and scored themselves a coveted spot on the BHG Friday Night Video blog post...Freelance Whales.

Mark Steffen at Jonk Music wrote an excellent review of their debut album and I'll steal his opening paragraph:

"Freelance Whales are one of those bands that I'd like to dislike. They live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They do things like perform on Bedford Avenue to a crowd of hipsters. They note that they roll their own cigarettes. And they list the harmonium as an essential instrument. They include mathematical characters in their song titles. But I can't get myself over the delightful, heartbreaking fairytales that spew from their debut album, Weathervanes."

That's sort of how I felt by the time they finished their dynamic three-song set. Their cultivated uncultivated look screamed "annoying hipster," but who gives a fuck, really? These guys are the real deal. With eclectic, ethereal arrangements, there were hints of Arcade Fire and Polyphonic Spree, but really it was a beautiful sound, original in its composition and masterful in its production. I'm not especially good at writing about music, so let me have Mark Steffen drive this one home:

"The album settles comfortably in what people will refer to as "neo-folk" or "indie-pop-folk" or "post-everything," and none of these labels will come close to what Freelance Whales have given us. Supposedly the band name is both a description of the music and the band's lifestyle outside of music. And, for once, it's pretty perfect. These boys have a lot of talent in a lot of different areas. It's jittery, downplayed, catchy, dreamlike, and imperfect, but it's all presented in true New Yorker "freelance life" form."

I have two videos for you. The first is a live performance of them doing the song "Generator ^ Second Floor". Yes, that symbol in the title is intentional. And yes, there is also a song called "Generator ^ First Floor"...which happens to be the second video. In it, an abbreviated video, they perform the song in the Bedford Avenue subway station in Williamsburg. These guys are good. VERY good.


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