You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fiery Furnaces

In interviews teasing the release of their upcoming Fat Possum album "Bitter Tea," Fiery Furnaces guitarist-songwriter Matthew Friedberger has taken to describing the band's sound as "sissy psychedelic Satanism." While ostensibly tongue-in-cheek, the phrase is an accurate encapsulation of the band's alternately enthralling and exasperating sound as any.

In interviews teasing the release of their upcoming Fat Possum album “Bitter Tea,” Fiery Furnaces guitarist-songwriter Matthew Friedberger has taken to describing the band’s sound as “sissy psychedelic Satanism.” While ostensibly tongue-in-cheek, the phrase is an accurate encapsulation of the band’s alternately enthralling and exasperating sound as any.

This one-off show was something of a coming-out party for the “Bitter Tea” material — although, in typically contrarian fashion, the Friedberger siblings completely overhauled the songs, replacing the tinkling studio keyboards with angular, squealing guitars.

The approach proved thoroughly gripping on the morning-after plaint “I’m in No Mood” (which took on a neo-flamenco feel here) and “Black-Hearted Boy,” an already dark piece that turned even more sinister thanks to riffing that recalled sludge-rock forefathers the Groundhogs. A more recent reference point — particularly when the Friedbergers’ rough-hewn harmonies took hold — was Royal Trux, although the Furnaces replace that band’s junked-out ennui with more of a childlike worldview.

Occasionally, the quartet seemed to be treading water. Matthew Friedberger falls back too often on a few effects — most noticeably a thereminlike feedback screed — that blur the edges of songs a bit too much, imparting a homogeneity to the perf’s latter stages.

He did produce some daffily expressionistic fillips, however, on songs like an extended “Chris Michaels” and “My Dog Was Lost but Now He’s Found,” both of which originated on the 2004 release “Blueberry Boat.” Eleanor Friedberger imbued the latter tune with a winsomeness that was hard to resist.

While she’s not the most outgoing front person out there — on this evening, she stuck to the far side of the stage so earnestly, it seemed almost like an electronic ankle bracelet was tethering her — Eleanor possesses an undeniable magnetism. Her tomboyish presence — she could easily pass for a young Kristy McNichol — doesn’t hurt, but it’s the sly, cocked-eyebrow way she delivers the lyrics that really cuts to the quick.

Of late, she’s also harnessed a cool sensuality — expressed best here in the vamping “Teach Me, Sweetheart” and a short but sweet “Benton Harbor Blues” — that adds a missing piece to the Furnaces’ puzzle. That may not be enough to get them a Pepsi commercial, but it adds another layer of intrigue to the crazy-quilt of one of the decade’s most consistently surprising acts.

Fiery Furnaces

Bowery Ballroom; 500 capacity; $15

Production: Presented inhouse. Musicians: Eleanor Friedberger, Matthew Friedberger, Jason Lowenstein, Bob D'Amico. Reviewed April 19, 2006.

More Music

  • Robert Lighthizer

    NAFTA Renegotiation Triggers New 'Safe Harbor' Copyright Battle

    In interviews teasing the release of their upcoming Fat Possum album “Bitter Tea,” Fiery Furnaces guitarist-songwriter Matthew Friedberger has taken to describing the band’s sound as “sissy psychedelic Satanism.” While ostensibly tongue-in-cheek, the phrase is an accurate encapsulation of the band’s alternately enthralling and exasperating sound as any. This one-off show was something of a […]

  • Nigel Mack

    Republic Records Names Nigil Mack VP of Urban A&R

    In interviews teasing the release of their upcoming Fat Possum album “Bitter Tea,” Fiery Furnaces guitarist-songwriter Matthew Friedberger has taken to describing the band’s sound as “sissy psychedelic Satanism.” While ostensibly tongue-in-cheek, the phrase is an accurate encapsulation of the band’s alternately enthralling and exasperating sound as any. This one-off show was something of a […]

  • Grammys Open New York Chapter Office

    Grammys Hold Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for New York Townhouse With Mayor de Blasio, Neil Portnow

    In interviews teasing the release of their upcoming Fat Possum album “Bitter Tea,” Fiery Furnaces guitarist-songwriter Matthew Friedberger has taken to describing the band’s sound as “sissy psychedelic Satanism.” While ostensibly tongue-in-cheek, the phrase is an accurate encapsulation of the band’s alternately enthralling and exasperating sound as any. This one-off show was something of a […]

  • Def Leppard, Lenny Kravitz, Stevie Nicks

    Def Leppard, Lenny Kravitz, Stevie Nicks' Managers Form New Firm

    In interviews teasing the release of their upcoming Fat Possum album “Bitter Tea,” Fiery Furnaces guitarist-songwriter Matthew Friedberger has taken to describing the band’s sound as “sissy psychedelic Satanism.” While ostensibly tongue-in-cheek, the phrase is an accurate encapsulation of the band’s alternately enthralling and exasperating sound as any. This one-off show was something of a […]

  • Joan Jett Sundance

    Joan Jett: Rock Music 'Will Never Be Dead' (Watch)

    In interviews teasing the release of their upcoming Fat Possum album “Bitter Tea,” Fiery Furnaces guitarist-songwriter Matthew Friedberger has taken to describing the band’s sound as “sissy psychedelic Satanism.” While ostensibly tongue-in-cheek, the phrase is an accurate encapsulation of the band’s alternately enthralling and exasperating sound as any. This one-off show was something of a […]

  • Slayer Announces ‘Final World Tour’

    Slayer Announce ‘Final World Tour’

    In interviews teasing the release of their upcoming Fat Possum album “Bitter Tea,” Fiery Furnaces guitarist-songwriter Matthew Friedberger has taken to describing the band’s sound as “sissy psychedelic Satanism.” While ostensibly tongue-in-cheek, the phrase is an accurate encapsulation of the band’s alternately enthralling and exasperating sound as any. This one-off show was something of a […]

  • Vevo Product Head Mark Hall Exits

    Vevo Head of Product Leaves Month After CEO Departure (EXCLUSIVE)

    In interviews teasing the release of their upcoming Fat Possum album “Bitter Tea,” Fiery Furnaces guitarist-songwriter Matthew Friedberger has taken to describing the band’s sound as “sissy psychedelic Satanism.” While ostensibly tongue-in-cheek, the phrase is an accurate encapsulation of the band’s alternately enthralling and exasperating sound as any. This one-off show was something of a […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content