Adding a little cinnamon to the coffee grounds every now and then provides just the right amount of spice to liven up the daily cup of joe. Perhaps consider spicing up your music library with a dash of Beirut. The combination of indie rock meets eastern European folk is unusual yet remarkably palatable.
A kid from New Mexico took a trip to Europe, became inspired, and decided to start making some indie rock music infused with Balkan horns, French pop and other world music elements. The band Beirut began with Zach Condon recording an album in his bedroom with help from some talented friends (Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost both from A Hawk and a Hacksaw). The debut album Gulag Orkestar was released in 2006 and with live shows came the fully realized band.
The music of Beirut is dense with instrumentation and the earnest authenticity of Condon’s vocals. The valve fluegelhorn, marching band percussion, ukulele and pump organ along with Condon’s voice provide a sound that has tradition and culture wrapped inside beautifully conceived pop melodies. Lyrics may reference wars, life and death struggle, romantic historical settings and miscellaneous old world nostalgia, but Condon’s heartfelt croon somehow keeps them relatable.
Beirut’s newest release The Rip Tide sees the band returning with arrangements that are leaner, but the signature replete with dramatic flourishes and vintage instruments still remain.
If you like: Sufjan Stevens, Devotchka, The Decemberists
Check out: Beirut (start with The Flying Club Cup, continue with The Rip Tide and graduate to the rest)
Feeling brave: Gogol Bordello, Man Man, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Magnetic Fields
AI level: Intermediate