Posted by: will | June 21, 2006



Beirut "Gulag Orkestar" (Ba Da Bing!)

Once in a while an artist comes along that actually deserves the hype. That's the case with Beirut who are led by 19 year-old wonder-kid Zach Condon. Condon was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM and now resides in Brooklyn. You'd never know it though as Gulag Orkestar has a definite European flavor to it. That this is the young Condon's first album begs for even more hype to be thrown his way. He has created with Gulag Orkestar, a strangely familiar, yet unique album.

The album's influences certainly jump out at you. The crooning vocals of Condon bare a strking resemblance to Stephin Merrit of The Magnetic Fields. The diverse instrumentation of the album brings to mind the legendary Neutral Milk Hotel. So it's no surprise that Jeremy Barnes of Neutral Milk Hotel is a guest on the album. Guitars are completely void within the diverse instrumentation of Gulag Orkestar. To tell the truth, you don't even notice their absence when listening. There are so many other instruments that make their presence felt on the album. Most prominent on the album are the horns and the percussion. They seem to lead the way. As they are blaring on numerous tracks I can not help but envision a hero or heroine gloriously walking towards their imminent death. The instrumentation is meant to frame Condon's gorgeous vocals and it does just that througout Gulag Orkestar with glorious results.

Condon is obviously a massive talent who is supported by an incredible cast around him. It's mindblowing that he is only 19 years old. Hopefully he won't flicker away like so many talented young musicians have before him. Cause if Gulag Orkestar is any indication he has a beautiful future ahead of him.

RIYL: The Magnetic Fields, Neutral Milk Hotel, Jens Lekman


Beirut – Postcards From Italy (mp3)

Beirut – Mount Wroclai (Idle Days) (mp3)


  1. […] was released earlier this year. I reviewed Beirut’s 2006 debut, the amazing Gulag Orkestar here. New album comes out in […]

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