Monday, July 21, 2008

Week 8: "Scenic World" by Beirut

The lights go on
the lights go off
when things don't feel right
I lie down like a tired dog
licking his wounds in the shade

When I feel alive
I try to imagine a careless life
a scenic world where the sunsets are all
breathtaking

"Breathtaking" is exactly the word I would choose to describe the 128 seconds of beauty that is the song "Scenic World." With only two simple verses, the beautiful melodies of a violin and brass instruments, and playful percussion, this song manages to transport you to someplace, well, breathtaking.

Beirut is the brain-child of (now) 22 year-old Zach Condon, a transplant to Brooklyn, NY from Santa Fe, NM. Condon is joined by a revolving cast of musicians. Their first release, the 2007 EP Lon Gisland, cites the following instruments played by eight musicians: vocals, ukelele, piano, trumpet, euphonium, flugel horn, percussion, organs, violin, accordion, cello, baritone saxophone, clarinet, glockenspiel, and mandolin.

Beirut's music is heavily influenced by European (especially Eastern-European) folk music. Their world-music sound is deeply enriched by Condon's distinctive vocals which make him sound very unlike an American guy in his early twenties. The band has traveled not only within the United States but all over the world, including throughout Europe, Austrailia, New Zealand, and Asia.

Unfortunately, I have never heard Beirut play live. However, I do have a personal connection with the band. In 2001-2002, when I was the Intern Minister at the Horizon UU Church in Carrollton, Texas, Beirut's violinist Kristin Ferebee was one of the youth in the youth group (and her mother was a member of my intern committee.)

To hear a live version of Beirut performing "Scenic World" click here.

Other Beirut songs that I particularly enjoy are "Postcards from Italy" and "Mount Wroclai (Idle Days)" from the Gulag Orkestar album and "Guyamos Sonora" and "Forks and Knives (la fete)" from The Flying Club Cup album.