7/18/08: Firewater

The Golden Hour
Bloodshot Records
Release date: May 6, 2008
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Sounds like: Feverish world music punctuated with a New York gypsy punk snarl

*This review originally published in the July issue of Drift Magazine (www.surfthedrift.com)*

World music seems to be all the rage in 2008, and foremost in that movement stands Firewater and its frontman Tod A, who from 2005 to 2007 journeyed through India, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, and Israel accumulating recordings with local musicians for The Golden Hour. And where many world-influenced artists submerse themselves in their chosen regional specialty, Firewater injects enough New York punk attitude into its sound to keep things both familiar and exotic at the same time.

No stranger to political dialogue, Tod A opens The Golden Hour with the gypsy big band mash-up “Borneo,” which features pointed jabs at our current administration: “Gonna set my sails for virgin soil/You know I don’t wanna die for the price of oil.” From there it’s on to the authority-challenging “This Is My Life,” the strutting farfisa and electric banjo on the instrumental “Banghra Bros,” and on down the line with the joyously angry jazz-punk of “Hey Clown.” Israeli trombones resonate on the swinging “Weird To Be Back,” and a sad clippity-clop of djembe drums teams up with a weeping acoustic guitar line to tinge the drinking ode “6:45 (So This Is How It Feels)” with a massive amount of melancholy.

Firewater closes the album with the slightly bluesy “3 Legged Dog,” which sums up The Golden Hour's pained worldview and Tod A's tortured outlook: “Just because I can’t recall their names/All the faces and the places just begin to look the same/When you’re a 3-legged dog on the roam.” Other world musicians may boast of a summer residency in Paris or a revealing trip to a street market in Peru, but Tod A’s search for musical globalism reflects a different sort of obsession: in order to create Firewater’s next body of work, he went out in search of something completely foreign and unfamiliar in Southern Asia. Whether he made any kind of personal discovery along the way is up for debate, but The Golden Hour proves that long, hard journey certainly wasn’t made in vain.

*This review originally published in the July issue of Drift Magazine (www.surfthedrift.com)

Official band site: www.firewater.tv
Myspace: www.myspace.com/realfirewater
Label: www.bloodshotrecords.com/album/firewater/353
"Borneo" mp3
"Three-Legged Dog" mp3

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