10 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

As lead singer for the Fiery Furnaces, Eleanor Friedberger skillfully navigates the often-complicated pieces written by her brother Matthew. They’re great songs, but you shouldn’t get attached to the hooks or chord changes because they regularly get tossed overboard when things suddenly shift gears. On her impressive debut, Last Summer, Friedberger works with simpler material and sparser arrangements. Friedberger sings and talk-sings in phrases that can be nervously speedy or rhythmically incisive — or suddenly shift gears. The album opens strongly with “My Mistakes,” whose chugging groove is decked out with a springy keyboard riff and a rhythm guitar part that evokes Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy. Most of Last Summer’s lyrics detail situations set in New York locales, but “Inn of the Seventh Ray,” with its Beatles-tinged piano part, is a mid-tempo tour through Los Angeles. (The title refers to the venerable Topanga Canyon hippie restaurant.) The best thing here might be “Roosevelt Island,” a funky wonder with a stunning arrangement, the tale of a summer day in New York colored by vivid sensations and emotions.

EDITORS’ NOTES

As lead singer for the Fiery Furnaces, Eleanor Friedberger skillfully navigates the often-complicated pieces written by her brother Matthew. They’re great songs, but you shouldn’t get attached to the hooks or chord changes because they regularly get tossed overboard when things suddenly shift gears. On her impressive debut, Last Summer, Friedberger works with simpler material and sparser arrangements. Friedberger sings and talk-sings in phrases that can be nervously speedy or rhythmically incisive — or suddenly shift gears. The album opens strongly with “My Mistakes,” whose chugging groove is decked out with a springy keyboard riff and a rhythm guitar part that evokes Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy. Most of Last Summer’s lyrics detail situations set in New York locales, but “Inn of the Seventh Ray,” with its Beatles-tinged piano part, is a mid-tempo tour through Los Angeles. (The title refers to the venerable Topanga Canyon hippie restaurant.) The best thing here might be “Roosevelt Island,” a funky wonder with a stunning arrangement, the tale of a summer day in New York colored by vivid sensations and emotions.

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About Eleanor Friedberger

First known as half of the kaleidoscopic brother-sister duo the Fiery Furnaces during the 2000s, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Eleanor Friedberger established herself as a witty and sensitive solo artist once that band went on hiatus in 2011. Her own albums were nearly as eclectic as the Furnaces', ranging from the classic rock and folk-inspired warmth of 2011's Last Summer and 2016's New View to the goth-pop homages of 2018's Rebound.

Friedberger grew up in a musically inclined family in Oak Park, Illinois: her grandmother was a musician and choir director at a Greek Orthodox church; her mother played piano and guitar and sang; and throughout school, her brother Matthew played standup bass. Meanwhile, Friedberger's taste in music spanned classic rockers such as the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin as well as '90s indie luminaries like Pavement, Royal Trux, and Guided by Voices. Following her graduation from the University of Texas in Austin and a year she spent in England, Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger formed the Fiery Furnaces, who released eight albums -- including 2004's breakthrough Blueberry Boat -- in as many years.

The Fiery Furnaces went on hiatus in 2011, the same year Friedberger released her Merge Records debut album, Last Summer, which featured a playful but more straightforward sound than her band's work. For 2013's Personal Record, she crafted a set of songs that paid homage to the introspective pop of the '70s. She returned late in 2015 with the single "False Alphabet City," a companion piece to visual artist Sara Magenheimer's film False Alphabets that was also Friedberger's Frenchkiss Records debut. Her third full-length, New View, was recorded with her backing band Icewater following a move to upstate New York. It arrived in January 2016. After touring for most of that year, Friedberger spent some time in Greece exploring her heritage and the local music scene. A late-night Greek goth nightclub, as well as the writing of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, inspired the literate electronic pop of 2018's Rebound. ~ Heather Phares

HOMETOWN
Oak Park, IL
BORN
September 2, 1976

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