Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Freelance Whales - Generator 1st Floor

The Parisian, Alexandre Debain, who invented the harmonium in 1842 (what the hell is a harmonium?) probably never imagined the portable version being played in New York subways by an indie busker band, Freelance Whales. While the harmonium is not totally obscure--it was used in various Beatles songs, by Jeff Buckley, and Sigur Rós--it does seem like a strange part of a five person band. The harmonium adds the "je ne sais quoi" appeal to the Freelance Whales' music, but this is not to say it stands out per-se, their music is layered and balanced between their  guitar, banjo, harmonium, glockenspiel, bass, and drums.  They slowly built up a New York following, playing at house parties, street corners and subways, that has allowed them to go from being eclectic buskers to performing at SXSW for the first time this past week. Other reviews of Freelance Whales' have claimed that this a band for people who like Sufjan Stevens, Ra Ra Riot, and even Postal Service. But I think it is charming music that seems to fit into this new trend of instruments galore like Hey Marseilles, Horse Feathers, and Beirut. I love what these bands are doing and while some bands try and make it work, it is a difficult task, and many fade into obscurity or take a different route, but I believe we will be seeing more of this in the future from the Freelance Whales. Get a free download of Generator 1st floor from these kind people.

Listen to more on myspace. I suggest Hannah, Generator 2nd floor, and Ghosting.  Don't forget to watch the harmonium in action in the video of them playing at SXSW last week for NPR.

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