Firewater are a band that I've been meaning to see for a considerable time now, when they are not playing in the US, they are usually in the Balkans or obscure Swiss festivals. The International Orange tour went to Germany and Czech Republic and I had planned to buy tickets to the gig in Prague, on the first day of the tour in Istanbul, singer Tod Ashley fell off the stage and completely shattered his leg, I guess it wasn't to be.
The band's album The Golden Hour was the one that attracted me to the band and the new album The International Orange was much awaited after a 4 year break in album releases, it had to do a lot to live up to the standards of it's two predecessors.
After the first listen, I was a bit disappointed. The Turkish style beats and minimalistic drumming complete with Tod's rough vocals were still there, the lyrics were poetic but it lacked the bite and anger of The Golden Hour, it seemed more whiney. I put it away and ignored it for a while, it took me a few months to give the album another chance and the second listen was quickly followed by several more, it was growing on me and I had begun to see the positives.
A Little Revolution and Glitter Boots are good songs but run along without really changing the world. Dead Man's Boots though is a different proposition, a fantastically catchy rhythm is matched with a slight hint of ska and some nice brass sections. The best balkan jazzy dance rock type of track since Max Pashm's electro balkan swing track Fight on the Streets. Fortunately the album continues in the same vein with the equally sing-a-long Up From the Underground, The Monkey Song is another anthem but I prefer the Latino sounding Ex Millionaire Mambo which really sounds like a track off the band's first album. Lyrically the album, in particular this track though will appeal to fans of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen, the music is more upbeat and varied than either though.
Feeling No Pain and Strange Life hark back to The Golden Hour sound with Tod singing like a wounded tiger, smart lyrics that tell interesting tales by way of rock ballad. Then there's a brash rocky number in the form of Nowhere to be Found before the album then finishes off with the joyful Tropical Depression before moving on to the calming "The Bonney Anne". Overall, a fantastic album, I'm not overly sure about the order of the songs as it seems they are batched into styles of 3 or 4 songs in a row and it might have been wiser to re-order them.