It was a few years ago that my friend Cesar introduced me to an artist called Beirut, a wizard of arrangement and melody who integrated trumpets and ukeleles and many other instruments in a musical world unique to every song.
Cesar’s man-crush on Beirut has since subsided, but I am still a fan. Beirut’s lyricism is similar to that of Wye Oak and Japandroids–he uses few words to say profound things. The arrangement and integration of all the eclectic instruments is seamless and I’m always impressed with how the percussion matches the song exactly, which is unusual for an indie act such as this (more on that later).
To give you some background on Beirut, the band started as a solo project by Zach Condon in Santa Fe, influenced heavily by European folk and world music, recording Gulag Orkestar, Beirut’s excellent first album, alone in his bedroom and only polishing it in a studio with a member of Neutral Milk Hotel. On the strength of that album’s material, he got signed to a New York label and recruited ten friends to play live with him, forming the band version of Beirut.
The band released their fourth album just a couple of weeks ago, and the gem is easily “East Harlem”. Moving in a more piano-based direction than in albums past, Beirut still shines their signature sound straight through.
Condon’s lyricism remains some of the best around, which is why a few of us screenwriters are planning to hit up the Beirut concert October 4th in LA. Just read the lyrics to “East Harlem”. The final verse will have you in tears of love:
Another rose wilts in East Harlem
And uptown downtown a thousand miles between us
She’s waiting for the night to fall
Let it fall, I’ll never make it in time (repeat 3x)
Sound is the colour I know, oh,
Sound is what keeps me looking for your eyes,
And sound of your breath in the cold,
And oh, the sound will bring me home again.(repeat 2x)
The sound always brings me home if it’s Beirut’s music.
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