Thursday, April 26, 2007
A Hawk and a Hacksaw return - with more folk(s)
Last year some of the phrases on the lips of many bloggers were ‘Balkan folk’, ‘gypsy folk’ or (perhaps more correctly) ‘Eastern European folk’. In almost all cases, they were referring to the rise and rise of Beirut, the project of Zach Condon, formerly of Albuquerque, now of NYC. In some other cases there were some mentions of Zach’s fellow home-towners Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost, together known as A Hawk and a Hacksaw.
It’s right that they should be mentioned, not only because they plough a very similar furrow to Beirut, as well as being friends. They don’t have Condon’s gloriously mournful vocals, but in some ways they’re more authentically Eastern European. After all, they did record their last album When the Wind Blows with celebrated Romanian brass band Fanfare Ciocarlia. Then, after receiving some acclaim for that, and touring the UK with Calexico and their Beirut mates , they set off back to Eastern Europe – to Budapest.
There, after visiting Fono, a music shop and venue for Hungarian folk music, they met a group of musicians who soon became The Hun Hangár Ensemble and recorded some tracks with Barnes and Trost in December. The fruits of their work are now about to see the light of day on the self-titled A Hawk And A Hacksaw & The Hun Hangár Ensemble EP. To be honest, it’s one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and I was pretty damn pleased to get a couple of tracks off the EP (there are eight in total). And I’m also pleased to say that they sound good. Not a massive departure in sound for AHAAH from the evidence of these two tracks, but pretty good nonetheless. I’m looking forward to hearing the other six tunes.
But not just an EP – a tour as well. Barnes and Trost are bringing the Ensemble to the UK, starting next Saturday (5 May). They hit Bush Hall on 11 June. Can’t wait!
Download: A Hawk And A Hacksaw & The Hun Hangár Ensemble – Ihabibi
Download: A Hawk And A Hacksaw & The Hun Hangár Ensemble – Zozobra
And speaking of Beirut, they’re back in London on 24 June for their first proper headline show here (after Zach couldn’t sing at the original one last November). If you’ve not got their new tracks, head over to Rough Trade Digital now for them. I’m not going to post any – it’s Rough Trade’s wee exclusive, apparently done for them by Condon in return for making The Gulag Orkestar their number one album of 2006. They’re certainly less gypsy folk, more lo-fi Casio beats, but still well worth a listen.
Pre-order the EP.