Friday, May 16, 2008

A Hawk And A Hacksaw - The Way The Wind Blows (2006)

Oh my, how I have a strong affection for elephant 6 and related bands. A Hawk And A Hacksaw connected, of course, through Jeremy Barnes (formerly of Neutral Milk Hotel). The collective is best known for the many indie pop albums to be produced by the groups belonging, but this group isn't doing the indie pop thing. For this unfamiliar with A Hawk And A Hacksaw, it is a New Mexico-based folk band that plays songs absolutely soaked in Balkan influence. As well, many probably know the young lad Barnes helped get heard, Zach Condon a.k.a. Beirut.
The Way The Wind Blows is the third of now four releases, and it is where Barnes really begins to show his brilliance. Both Barnes and the violinist Heather Trost wrote the songs, and both show remarkably more control over their playing of the genre. Amazing accordion playing (something I wish I got opportunity to say more often) and beautiful chorus-style lyrics can be found right off the bat with "In The River." In this mood of whimsical song-crafting there shines "God Bless The Ottoman Empire" that features stunning sounds of a horn which are carried straight into further tracks like "Gadje Sirba" which is a retooling of a traditional song by the pair of songwriters. Some songs have the multi-person choir singing, other are fittingly instrumental. Nevertheless, the entire album is undeniably fantastic (in every sense of the word). I have a habit of playing some of the sections with horns loudy in my car with the windows down. Not because I relish so much in the looks I get, but because is reminds me fondly of my first boss, who happened to be surly Albanian man who'd always play traditional music in his rusty van.

To be had here (192 kbps):
A Hawk And A Hacksaw - The Way The Wind Blows

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