Firewater 

The Golden Hour

If they were to be signed to a major label (gasp), Firewater would likely drive said label's marketing department into spasms of frustrating overtime. There have been few (if any) rock 'n' roll albums — indie or mainstream — like Firewater's latest The Golden Hour.

Leader Tod A, formerly of NYC noise-punks Cop Shoot Cop, forgoes the concept of Firewater as a conventional "band" to record an album in four countries with different configurations of musicians over the course of two years. While previous Firewater offerings had overtones of world music (klezmer, Gypsy/Rom, Bollywood film music), Hour chronicles A's diving headfirst into folk and pop sounds of Turkey, Israel, India, and Pakistan (tossing some ska into the mix as well). A never "goes" Israeli or Indian — rather, he integrates assorted genres and styles into his rockin' vignettes of rousing, cheery contempt ("Borneo"), reflective angst ("Six Forty Five"), and good ol' cynicism ("Hey Clown").

Despite the diversity of such a concept, Hour makes for cohesive and enthralling listening. Some of these songs have a rollicking, ramshackle feel evoking both the Clash and Pogues, especially as A sings with an earthy, piss-and-vinegar Joe Strummer/Shane McGowan rasp. Great fun, and not just for multi-kulti gatecrashers only. (Bloodshot)

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