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Forced March

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Album Review

People who make fun of the accordion simply don't know what they're talking about. Unfairly characterized in the popular mind as the tool of galumphing Middle Europeans playing Lawrence Welk-style polkas, the accordion in the proper hands is a richly varied and satisfying musical instrument capable of impressive emotional and musical range. The seven lengthy instrumentals on Madagascar's debut album tend to favor the minor key and moody side of the instrument, but Michael Lambright is clearly a gifted squeezeboxer. The Baltimore-based musician is joined by brother Anthony Lambright on musical saw (another instrument that never gets its proper due, producing an otherworldly, ethereal drone that is used beautifully throughout the album) and a variety of other instrumentalists on glockenspiel, acoustic guitar, and various other oddments. The resulting music is gloriously melancholy, even on fairly upbeat tracks like the playful "Brief Stroll/The Velvet Parasol." More representative is the dirge-like opener, "All That Spring You Could See Halley's Comet," with its vaguely Balkan pulse and wistful melody. Somewhere between the faux-Eastern European vibe of DeVotchKa and the post-rock gloom of Canadian bands like Do Make Say Think and Explosions in the Sky, Forced March is an endlessly fascinating and enjoyable album.

Forced March, Madagascar
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