Beirut Up Go the Arms

Coming out of a melatonin dream state, it’s never clear where you’re going to land. One minute you’re outside a Brooklyn bodega with a Casio keyboard, the next you’re singing melodies to fill the New Mexican sky. But you keep coming back to that small Eastern European town by the sea, standing on the corner armed with your ukulele, fighting to be heard amidst the brass bands that parade around the village. If you are 20-year old Zach Condon, this would all be par for the course. Countless American college students backpack around Europe and return thinking they’re all cultured and shit, but precious few make great art out of the experience. Condon comes off like Morrissey singing Balkan opera, and everything is illuminated once he lifts his voice into a codeine croon to make you swoon. He gets valuable direction from more experienced traveller Jeremy Barnes, who anchored the drum set for Neutral Milk Hotel and later traipsed his accordion around the European countryside as A Hawk and a Hacksaw. Though the band name and album title suggest war-torn landscapes, Condon’s music is ultimately uplifting, lifting the fog of resignation with the sound of hope. (Independent)