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Monday, July 6, 2009

7/8: Fiery Furnaces at the Grog Shop

Posted By on Mon, Jul 6, 2009 at 8:00 AM

Back-to-basics albums are risky. Often, the band isn’t returning to its roots at all, but someone else’s under the guise of maturity, or peeling back from a disaster to scrounge up some buzz, or just taking sheer laziness to the bank. But sometimes these faux-roots moves are good. The Fiery Furnaces, an unpredictable duo who have delighted and confounded indie rockers, use classic rock and blues sounds in such obtuse and jarring ways — usually alongside farting synthesizers — that there’s no telling if the songful I’m Going Away, due out later this month, means they’re getting better or worse. The album pushes aside Matthew Friedberger’s usual ADHD and colliding multipart structures for repetitive synth-sludge blues reminiscent of a fancier Black Keys (“I’m Going Away,” “Charmaine Champagne”) and some New Orleans piano R&B (“The End Is Near,” “Even in the Rain”), which his sister Eleanor sounds surprisingly good crooning. The squelchy funhouse effects are mostly kept to a minimum this time — the only lengthy cut is the neat 6:35 climax. And the slinky, wah-enhanced “Keep Me in the Dark” is the Furnaces’ best single track since Blueberry Boat’s swingy “Straight Street.” It’s also this frustrating band’s most listenable record since their 2003 debut. Good Touch, Bad Touch opens at 9 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show. — Dan Weiss

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