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Beirut

One of 2006's most unexpected indie success stories, Beirut combines a wide variety of styles, from pre-rock/pop music and Eastern European Gypsy styles to the alternately plaintive and whimsical indie folk of the Decemberists to the lo-fi, homemade psychedelic experimentation of Neutral Milk Hotel. At the heart of this sonic hybrid was a teenager from Albuquerque, New Mexico, a fact that made Beirut's debut album, Gulag Orkestar, all the more surprising. Something of a musical prodigy, multi-instrumentalist Zach Condon began making one-man D.I.Y. bedroom recordings in his early teens; while conducting interviews several years later, he claimed to have recorded an entire album of '50s-style doo wop material and a collection of electronic pop songs inspired by the Magnetic Fields. (Indeed, Condon's dolorous vocal delivery and low, somewhat shaky pitch sound directly inspired by the Fields' Stephin Merritt.)

After dropping out of high school, Condon claims to have traveled through Europe at the age of 16, in the process becoming exposed to the Balkan folk and Gypsy music that's at the heart of Gulag Orkestar. Back home in Albuquerque, Condon crossed paths with fellow New Mexican Jeremy Barnes, formerly of Neutral Milk Hotel, whose own albums as A Hawk and a Hacksaw share similarly ethnographic interests with Condon's new material. With the help of Barnes and his A Hawk and a Hacksaw partner, Heather Trost, Condon recorded the songs that would make up Gulag Orkestar largely on his own, playing accordion, keyboards, saxophone, clarinet, mandolin, ukulele, horns, glockenspiel, and percussion along with Barnes' drums and Trost's cello and violin.

After Barnes gave an early version of the album to Ba Da Bing! Records label head Ben Goldberg, the newly christened band Beirut was signed to the New Jersey-based label and Condon moved from Albuquerque to Brooklyn, where he put together a floating collective of part-time bandmembers along the lines of Broken Social Scene for live performances. Following the release of Gulag Orkestar in May 2006, critical approbation quickly moved from the smallest blogs to mainstream media outlets that pegged Condon as a one-man cross between Jeff Mangum, Conor Oberst, and Sufjan Stevens. The EP Lon Gisland followed in 2007, leading up to the full-length The Flying Club Cup later that year. In 2009 Condon released the double EP March of the Zapotec/Holland. The latter featured six electronic tracks recorded at home under the pseudonym Realpeople, while the former included six tracks recorded in Oaxaca, Mexico with the Jimenez Band, a 19-piece group from Teotitlán del Valle. 2011’s Rip Tide was recorded in Upstate New York during a cold winter, yet it still managed to retain the sunny, uplifting sound that is synonymous with the outfit. The first single, “East Harlem,” featured lush melodies that resonated with Condon's guised lyrics as well as an array of ukuleles, horns, and keys. ~ Stewart Mason, Rovi
full bio

Comments

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If you like listening to Beirut you will also love DeVotchKa! DeVotchKa was formed in Denver, Co
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This band makes me think of the local natives, dark, but somehow at the same time, cheery. Kinda like a goodbye..... . . . . .
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I don't know why but every time I hear his music, it haunts me. It brings me to a dark place and I just want to cry, but I can't stop listening. I love their music, they are f**king amazing, but for some reason it just makes me get a lot of anxiety and dark memories when I listen to them.
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andrew.w.bel l a f i o r e 8
Love this band. Sounds like folk music. Love the song elephant gun.
I play ukulele too but Zach Condon
Is WAY better.
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The song elephant gun is awesome!
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Come to Texas!
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Beirut is my all-time favorite musical group. I got to see them live, and they played my favorite song. BEST CONCERT EVER.
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The music is eh, but the lyrics are bomb
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I was obsessed with them when I was in high school...rem e m b e r now why.
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I don't know what it is about this music, but it just puts me in a great mood.
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Beirut is definitely an acquired taste, but amazing! I absolutely love them. One of my all time favorites. Zachary is just...uh! Love him.
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Snoop Lion is even sampling Beirut (via Diplo's production, of course).
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Pure lovelyness
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Absolutely mesmorizing band! Truly spectacular and unique sound
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Gigarder suck my gigadick these guys are good
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Musical genius. to think, how easily it might have remained hidden.
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gjgardner
Worst s**t ever maybe. save the bees and recycle
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Santa Fe!
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strangejade5
best fake french guy ever.
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to atotalgem its american but whatever
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My All Time Favorite Band Ever in the Whole Wide World!!!!!
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My favourite! Amazing, amazing european indie music, makes me happy every time I listen to it.
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Just amazing
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love at first listen. excellent. I can't believe it took me so long to find Beirut, but I'm glad I have.
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murmurmorett i
Amazing sound
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micindy thought that they were sheep...sing i n g sheep....I think i'm gonna up her meds
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just saw them last night in milwaukee turner hall, best show ever, they are great live.
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Met most of the band at Warehouse 21, pretty much all except Zach and his bass player. They are so cool and really down. One of the best shows I have ever been to. Don't know what I would do without their inspiration. Their music speaks so listen. Thanks for the amazing show. Its been a month and still one the most memorable experiences of my life.
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jeffro622
Pandora should have a LOVE IT BUTTON! cause this is de-f**king-l i g h t f u l
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Hello onetwothree. I did meet Zack in Santa Fe week before last. I enjoyed an intimate show at the Wharehouse 21. After the show, Zack's Dad introduced me to him. I got to sit in the VIP section with Zack's parents. I also met the drummer who plays a hard driving set.
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love beirut soso much! i want to meet zach and hear about all his travelling stories that drove him to write such good music! hope new stuff comes out soon. cant wait :)
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jerm_michell e
can't wait till he has new material out
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great stuff! huge andrew bird vibes; i want to hear him whistle.
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i love beirut! its weird my teacher turned me on to them...
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very cool and innovative.
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His mesmerizing voice makes me travelling.
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meh.
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Beirut - One of the best things New Mexico has given to the world. Zach's voice is intoxicating . I fall in love with Elephant Gun everyday.
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my favourite band, ever. most amazing live show i have ever seen. made me cry with inspiration. *
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condrag
What else can I say - awesome music!
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I think I can safely say that Beirut is one of my new favorite bands of all time!!! I try going back to listening to some other stuff, but find myself reverting back to them. Amazingness ^3!
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Can not wait for the free show in Salt Lake this summer!!! Considering they dont do too many shows in the u.s. ( tbh ive never known them to do a proper tour rather instead they do 6-8 dates and stop ) this is AMAZING news!!
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This guy is amazing. I just love the vibrato of his voice and the harmonies are just awesome.
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incredible
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bonnie.matte r n
Wow!
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gypsy tunes and zach condon's voice = best collaboratio n ever.
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wesley.kenne y
love him. him.
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I l000ve them. Great music!!
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dwade021
i will never be able to listen to them the same. you ruined them
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thisrequires t h o u g h t
Zach Condon, inspired me to start playing Ukulele. He's so talented.
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