The Fiery Furnaces
Brother and sister Matthew and Eleanor Friedburger formed the Fiery Furnaces, after finding themselves both living in New York in 2001. With Eleanor on vocals and rhythm guitar, and Matthew on lead guitar, they managed to take a very traditional arrangement and turn it into one of the great surprises of 2003 when their debut, Gallowsbird Bark, was released. At a time when many of their peers were claiming to be influenced by the blues and post-punk, the Fiery Furnaces managed to take those influences and create a sound much more unique. From music-hall theatrics, to Captain Beefheart's chunky blues abstractions, from the bare-bones Velvet Underground drones, to sloppy classic rock in the vein of Royal Trux, ÃÂÃÂthe Fiery Furnaces just sound different than anybody else. Eleanor Friedburger's vocals are distinct, tough and when she wraps them around phrases like, "you've got a wing in your snaggle tooth, and you can't kick it back with no 80-proof," it all makes sense in a surreal rock 'n' roll way that happens when nothing suddenly means everything. The release of 2004's Blueberry Boat upped the ante and tripled the song length. Each tune is like a version of the Who's mini-rock epic, "A Quick One," but with rather idiosyncratic lyrics about pirates and blueberries. Bold, ambitious, twisted and above all, great songwriters, the Fiery Furnaces continue to keep things interesting.