Some Notes On Eleanor Friedberger, Ida, And Rebecca Gates, Who Are Playing Tomorrow Night's Excellent Show At Club Europa
by David Raposa
Saturday's Northside Festival show at Europa will showcase four well-traveled acts from far-flung corners of the indie-rock diaspora: Eleanor Friedberger, Ida, Rebecca Gates, and Pete Nolan. The bill's highest-profile member is also the only one with an album scheduled to come out in the near future; Eleanor Friedberger's Merge debut, Past Summer, is due out later this year. If you haven't already, check out the video for "My Mistakes" that came out earlier this week. It's the sort of pleasantly plainspoken yet off-kilter tune that the Fiery Furnaces could seemingly conjure up at will, as the group's debut (Gallowsbird's Bark) and 2009's I'm Going Away ably demonstrate. "Tropical Ice-Land"!
Unfortunately for folks who wanted that sort of grounded songcraft on a regular basis, the music that Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger made often aimed to disappoint on that front. If the group wasn't busy frenetically switching gears and genres mid-song, then they were rope-a-doping unsuspecting listeners with impenetrable album-long conceits that might or might not have involved other members of their family. For the Fiery Furnaces, consistency is a dirty word; it's only fitting that one of their most approachable full-lengths is A) titled EP, and B) actually a B-sides compilation. If you could roll with the punches, however, challenging records like Blueberry Boat would reward your patience. And every once in a while, the group would let a charmer like Bitter Tea's "My Egyptian Grammar" out into the world: