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Eleanor Friedberger — Personal Record (2013)

 Eleanor Friedberger — Personal Record (2013)

Eleanor FriedbergerPersonal Record
Born: September 2, 1976 in Oak Park, Illinois
Location: New York City
Album release: June 3, 2013
Record Label: Merge Records
Duration:     46:17
01. I Don't Want to Bother You     3:56
02. When I Knew     3:45
03. I'll Never Be Happy Again     3:19
04. Stare at the Sun     2:56
05. Echo or Encore     4:51
06. My Own World     3:38
07. Tomorrow Tomorrow     3:21
08. You'll Never Know Me     3:24
09. I Am the Past     3:28
10. She's a Mirror     3:46
11. Other Boys     6:06
12. Singing Time     3:46
By Stephen Thompson
¶  As half of the brother–sister act The Fiery Furnaces — presently on hiatus — Eleanor Friedberger indulges some of her artier and more experimental, unpredictable impulses. As a solo artist, she's the epitome of subtle, un–showy cool. Friedberger's first solo record, 2011's Last Summer, was a marvelous exercise in nostalgia; the dryly sweet musical equivalent of a 35–year–old Polaroid. On Personal Record, out June 4, her palette expands to include a wider array of themes and perspectives, while she maintains a minimalist–cool sound that's sweet, simple and timeless. Friedberger wrote Personal Record with singer–songwriter John Wesley Harding, who knows a little something about smart love songs of every stripe.
¶  As a vocalist, Friedberger's dryly flat affect has a slight tremble to it, with appealing plainspokenness to match arrangements like the one in "When I Knew," in which even the handclaps are muted. There's a lot of air in the sweet ballad "Echo or Encore" and elsewhere; she keeps enough spareness in these songs that when she switches up the formula — as in the lush choruses of "She's a Mirror," the bouncy strum of "Stare at the Sun" or the flashes of distortion in "Tomorrow Tomorrow" — the joys and surprises hit that much harder.
Fortaken: http://www.npr.org/
¶  Eleanor Friedberger is an American musician most famous for being one half of the indie rock duo The Fiery Furnaces, along with her older brother Matthew Friedberger. In the band she contributes the majority of the vocals both on record and during their live performances. Friedberger grew up singing with her grandmother, Olga Sarantos and family in a Greek Orthodox Church. She previously dated Alex Kapranos of the Scottish rock band Franz Ferdinand, and the band's song "Eleanor Put Your Boots On" is considered by fans of both bands to be about her.
¶  Friedberger released her first solo album Last Summer on 12 July 2011 through Merge Records. Friedberger will release her second album, Personal Record, on 4 June 2013.
¶  Friedberger's brother Matthew dedicated his 2006 solo album Winter Women to her.
At a time when most female singer-songwriters perform as alter egos, Eleanor Friedberger is simply, refreshingly herself. And that's just the way her fans like it. Having spent a decade fronting the indie-rock institution The Fiery Furnaces with her brother Matthew, in 2011 she emerged as a formidable solo artist with Last Summer, a thoughtfully crafted tale of memory and place couched in the organic pop of her '70s idols.
Website: http://www.eleanorfriedberger.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/eleanor.friedberger.official
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By Randall Roberts; June 4, 2013, 6:00 a.m.
Eleanor Friedberger's 'Personal Record' is wonderfully askew
¶ Best known for her work as half of the sibling duo the Fiery Furnaces, singer and songwriter Eleanor Friedberger has been a rock outlier since her band burst out of the same '00s New York scene as the Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Over the following decade they poured forth ridiculous amounts of music that melded brother Matthew Friedberger's encyclopedic knowledge of music with Eleanor's gentle, wavering voice and way with a curious lyric.
¶  On her second solo album, Friedberger strikes further afield of her brother's impatient prog–rock tendencies, offering a dozen reasonably focused, verse–chorus–verse art–rock songs that draw on guitar-based '70s rock — as seen through a spider–cracked windshield.
¶  Which is to say, those looking for singalong joy and simple conceits have some work to do here. Friedberger's work is often heavy with odd phrasings, curious images and jagged lyrics. "Other Boys," for example, features a line about a spider in a stairwell who "demonstrates acoustics to ne'er–do–wells." "Staring at the Sun" opens with the stage–setting line, "In the back of the taxi/you turned off the TV/and read me a book on the phone." These words are accompanied by guitar/bass/drum–heavy structures that roam easily through samba, soft–rock and '70s canyon rock, combining to create a record that feels wonderfully askew, making "Personal Record" a challenge worth taking.
Fortaken: http://www.latimes.com/
¶  At a time when most female singer-songwriters perform as alter egos, Eleanor Friedberger is simply, refreshingly herself. And that’s just the way her fans like it. Having spent the last decade fronting the indie-rock institution The Fiery Furnaces (currently on hiatus) with her brother Matthew, in 2011 she emerged as a formidable solo artist with Last Summer, a thoughtfully crafted tale of memory ...and place couched in the organic pop of her ’70s idols. Instantly, Friedberger established herself as a modern-day heir to the tradition of Donovan, Todd Rundgren, Ronnie Lane, and their ilk: Warm, nuanced, timeless songs. No gimmicks necessary.
¶  The title of Friedberger’s sophomore album is Personal Record, and it is, in a sense. Personal, that is. But not personal in the way of, say, a coming-of-age record, or a diary about the past, which Last Summer was. Many of the songs seem to be about love, or love lost, but whether any of the experience is hers or someone else’s, she isn’t saying. “It’s not as specific a narrative this time,” she says. “There’s a universality to it.” So incisive are the lyrics, in fact, that Friedberger’s bassist incorrectly assumed that two of the songs were about him. “I loved that,” she says. “I want him to feel like the songs are about him. I want you to feel like the songs are about you.”
¶  The term “personal record” also refers to an athlete’s best, and the double entendre is apt. An intense decade–plus of touring and recording has burnished Friedberger’s voice and imbued her songwriting with newfound depth; there’s a maturity and mellifluousness to this outing that feels downright epic. It was always the Eleanor-penned songs that gave the Furnaces’ albums their most poignant and graceful moments, especially in later work like I’m Going Away. Last Summer took that promise into full flower; Personal Record “is part of the same growth process,” she says. ¶  Faced with a six–month gap between the completion of Last Summer and its release and accompanying tour, Friedberger holed up at home in Brooklyn; by the time the tour started, she had twelve new songs to road-test. Though most bands work this way, the Furnaces didn’t. For Friedberger, touring with the unreleased material allowed her to flesh out a more rollicking, full sound from the get–go. “By the time I came home,” she says, “I knew exactly what I wanted the songs to sound like.”
¶  She reunited with Last Summer producer Eric Broucek (the DFA–trained emerging talent whose clients include !!!, Hercules and Love Affair, and Jonny Pierce) to expand upon the warm, textured atmosphere of their first collaboration. Tracking began in fall 2012 with a week at Plantain Studios, the West Village home of DFA. To Friedberger’s favored electric pianos and classic–rock guitars, they added a menagerie including an upright bass, an alto flute, a bass clarinet, and even a portative organ. (It’s a device made of several recorders and a bellows in a frame that looks like a wooden castle. Or, actually, like Howl’s Moving Castle.)
¶  Production then resumed at Broucek’s home studio in the Los Angeles hills, where the rest of the record was completed in just ten days. As the songs filled out, Friedberger went full–out in immersing herself in her romantic vision of that city. “I was just listening to Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young, driving around in a borrowed Prius,” she says. “Walking along Point Dume, playing tennis at Griffith Park…. I ate hippie food every day. Lots of lentils.”
¶  The sun–warmed languor of the West Coast and its golden age of rock ’n’ roll shines through in Personal Record. It’s the aural equivalent of an afternoon jaunt up the PCH in an orange BMW 2002, fist pumping into the wind. “When I Knew” and “Stare at the Sun” rock out like the Furnaces’ finest, but with that unmistakable Eleanor gracefulness. “Echo or Encore” is a lilting love ballad underlaid with with a bossa nova beat. “I Am the Past” evokes the mystical side of the Me Decade with meandering bass clarinet and a balls–out flute solo (seriously). Though Friedberger may harbor a bit of a ’70s fetish, there’s an idiosyncrasy and intimacy to her music that’s undeniably modern. Above all, it’s pretty. “It’s such a romantic album to me,” Friedberger says. “But more so than love for another person, it’s really about a love of music.”
Biography by Heather Phares
¶  Restless sonic chameleons the Fiery Furnaces revolve around the brother and sister duo of Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger, whose prickly childhood relationship and musical family set the stage for their playful, unpredictable music. The Friedbergers' grandmother was a musician and choir director at a Greek Orthodox church near the family's home in Oak Park, IL; their mother, who had a penchant for Gilbert & Sullivan, played piano and guitar and sang; and throughout school, Matthew played standup bass. While The Friedbergers weren't the closest of siblings growing up, after college and separate trips abroad they returned to Oak Park and began working on music together. The pair mixed simple, poppy melodies with a dizzying array of wordplay, sounds, and influences, including the Who, Captain Beefheart, Os Mutantes; dashes of folk, blues, and garage rock; and Eleanor's adventures in Europe. In 2000, they moved to Brooklyn, took day jobs, and began playing as the Fiery Furnaces late in the year.
¶  The Furnaces played their initial gigs at a small club called Enid's and branched out from there, going through several lineups of supporting musicians as they played gigs with the French Kicks, Sleater–Kinney, and Spoon. In 2002, they began working on their first album. By the time they signed to Rough Trade on the basis of their demo, their debut, Gallowsbird's Bark, was completed and the Fiery Furnaces were already at work on the follow–up. Gallowsbird's Bark arrived in fall 2003 and won critical acclaim for its charming kitchen–sink feel, but the band gained more momentum the following year, when praise for the debut album dovetailed with the release of the group's even more diverse and challenging sophomore album, Blueberry Boat, that summer.
the Fiery Furnaces spent much of 2004 touring with Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Franz Ferdinand, and the Shins, but were already working on their third and fourth albums. Early in 2005, The Furnaces released the simply titled EP, a mini-album gathering most of their B-sides along with a few new songs. That fall, the band returned with Rehearsing My Choir, a challenging stream-of-consciousness album featuring The Friedbergers' grandmother, Olga Sarantos. They moved to Fat Possum for Bitter Tea, a collection of poppier songs that arrived in spring 2006. The following year, the Fiery Furnaces switched to Thrill Jockey and spent the summer and fall touring in anticipation of the '70s rock-influenced Widow City, which was released in October 2007 and was mixed by Tortoise's John McEntire. Remember, a sprawling live album that spliced different versions of the same songs together into collage-like tracks, followed in 2008. That fall and into winter 2009, the Fiery Furnaces recorded I'm Going Away, a simpler, more stripped-down collection that drew on the warm sounds of '70s and '80s TV show theme songs like Taxi for inspiration. The album came out in summer 2009, by which point the band was already working on other ideas, including their "silent record," an album in book form, and their "Democ–Rock" project, which allowed fans of the band to vote on the group's creative process.

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