Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#778 in the Series) is Firewater, International Orange (Bloodshot Records)
If a drinking establishment existed that was a cross between the zombie cantina in Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk Till Dawn and the beach bars in the Bikini Beach movies, Firewater would be the house band and International Orange would be their soundtrack.
Firewater feels like a name from the 70’s, sounds like a band from the 80’s and was formed in the 90’s by bass player and band leader Tod A. (aka Tod Ashley) leading a musical collective that has produced seven consistently great and eclectically diverse albums over the years including Get Off the Cross, We Need the Wood For the Fire released in 1996, and Songs We Should Have Written in 2004, that features a scaled down, sitar driven version of “Paint It Black,” the best cover version you will ever hear of “The Beat Goes On,” and a darkly punk rendition of “Folsom Prison.”
They say that nothing rhymes with Orange, international or otherwise, and pretty much the same can be said for International Orange, the latest Firewater release on Bloodshot records. This brilliant album is about as unique as it gets. Recorded and heavily influenced by the sights, sounds, and smells of their adopted home town of Istanbul Turkey, this genre hopping marvel of an album from the self-proclaimed “wedding band gone wrong” blends Post Punk, World, Gypsy Cabaret, Tom Waits Noir, Texas Tornados Texican, Dick Dale Surf, and Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood 60’s panache influences into one hell of a listening experience.
The opening track “A Little Revolution” where we are introduced to the Joe Strummer sounding snarling vocals of Tod A, makes it abundantly clear that we are in store for an eargasmic treat and a sweet listen that definitely is going to fall in the “and now for something completely different” category.
The songs “Glitter Days” and “Dead Man’s Boots” give us a one-two punch of world music landscapes, this time in the form of Indian wedding music against a back-drop of African rhythms, along with a hard core reggae with a side of Spanish horns number that would make Bob Marley proud.
“Right now by the miracle of recording we are going to go to a happy song a song that they televised nation-wide. We had so many requests from them to do it again that that’s exactly what they did. So right now, by the miracle of recording, singing a song that probably you have not heard before, but I am sure that after hearing it this time you will want to be hearing it again. It’s the monkey song.”
And teaches us a unique theory of evolution not taught in schools:
It ain’t the needle it’s the pricks. You can take the lies but for the smiles they hide behind. Don’t mind the bottles just the bricks. A man is just a monkey in a suit and tie. It ain’t the complex it’s the cure, and no religion just a hole to hide inside. Don’t mind the fire but how it burns, and this is not the way the way you would have wanted things to end.
The song is just one of many examples on this album where clever song writing meets a unique, stylistic approach to crafting a melody to create a mini masterpiece.
While instrumentally, International Orange has a joie de vie dance naked on Bourbon Street sort of feel, lyrically there is a prevalent political and socio-economic commentary that subtly weaves a thread through all eleven of the songs that makes the album more than just a fun listen, but a challenging one as well. This hits us particularly between the ears on “Ex-Millionaire Mambo” where the line “Nothing but pigeons in your Swiss account, it’s tough to be chic when you live in a cardboard box.” is a sobering sign of the times message.
My favorite song on the album “Tropical Depression” has a very distinct, updated, Black Keys feel to it complete with the semi-distorted fuzz guitar showing that these guys have the ability to set those time machines back to the future and appeal to contemporary audiences.
This album is a definite nostalgic throwback to the music of the 80’s given a glossy new make-over. There is nothing not to like, and every song stands on it’s with its own global and sonic personality. Line yourself up three or four shots of tequila, crank up the volume, and enjoy one of the great chillax albums of the year.
- A Little Revolution
- Glitter Days
- Dead Man’s Boots
- Up From The Underground
- The Monkey Song
- Ex-Millionaire Mamba
- Feeling No Pain
- Strange Life
- Nowhere To Be Found
- Tropical Depression
- The Bonney Anne
- Vonadav Halevy – Percussion
- Johnny Kalsi – Dhol, Loops
- Cosar Kamçi – Daf, Darbouka, Tef
- Uri Brauner Kinrot – Guitar
- Stefano “Lasko” Lascone – Trumpet
- Tamir Muskat – Percussion
- Massimo Piredda – Trombone
- Adam Scheflan -Bass
- Ferdi Seçkin – Zurna
- Nimrod Talmon – Melodica, Soloist, Trombone
- Tod A.Bongos – Guitars, Melodica, Vocals
- Itamar Ziegler – Bass