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The Fiery Furnaces

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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. ~ Heather Phares
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Stations Featuring
The Fiery Furnaces


Albums by
The Fiery Furnaces

Top Songs by
The Fiery Furnaces

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
  3.   We Got Back the Plague
  4.   Chris Michaels
  5.   Rehearsing My Choir
  6.   Black-Hearted Boy
  7.   Chief Inspector Blancheflower
  8.   Tropical-Iceland
  9.   Borneo
  10.   I'm in No Mood
  11.   Smelling Cigarettes
  12.   Wolf Notes
  13.   Single Again
  14.   Candymaker's Knife In My Handbag
  15.   Forty-Eight Twenty-Three Twenty-Second Street
  16.   Quay Cur
  17.   Nevers
  18.   Turning Round
  19.   Mason City
  20.   Seven Silver Curses
  21.   Sing For Me
  22.   Cousin Chris
  23.   We Wrote Letters Everyday
  24.   Inca Rag/Name Game
  25.   Spaniolated
  26.   Oh Sweet Woods
  27.   My Dog Was Lost But Now He's Found
  28.   The Vietnamese Telephone Ministry
  29.   Don't Dance Her Down
  30.   Paw Paw Tree
  31.   Police Sweater Blood Vow
  32.   Evergreen
  33.   South Is Only a Home
  34.   1917
  35.   Navy Nurse
  36.   Leaky Tunnel
  37.   Duffer St. George
  38.   Though Let's Be Fair
  39.   In My Little Thatched Hut
  40.   The Garfield El
  41.   Guns Under The Counter
  42.   I'm Gonna Run
  43.   Teach Me Sweetheart
  44.   Slavin' Away
  45.   Rub-Alcohol Blues
  46.   I'm Waiting to Know You
  47.   Blueberry Boat
  48.   Benton Harbor Blues
  49.   The Wayward Granddaughter
  50.   Sweet Spots
  51.   Crystal Clear
  52.   Does It Remind You Of When
  53.   Birdie Brain
  54.   Up in the North
  55.   Sullivan's Social Slub
  56.   Two Fat Feet
  57.   Bitter Tea
  58.   Straight Street
  59.   Here Comes the Summer
  60.   Whistle Rhapsody
  61.   Gale Blow
  62.   Worry Worry
  63.   Bow Wow
  64.   Bright Blue Tie
  65.   Do the Romp

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