Song of the Day: Beirut - The Akara

Doron Gild

Beirut at SXSW 2007 - photo by Doron Gild

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Midday Show host Cheryl Waters, is “The Akara” by Beirut from their 2009 album March of the Zapotec on Pompeii Records.

Beirut - The Akara (MP3)

Gypsies must love their music. Name a scene in a movie involving a Gypsy that doesn’t involve music. In fact, remember that scene in From Russia With Love where James Bond ends up in the middle of a Gypsy girl cat-fight after a night of drinking and dancing? It’s all fun and games one minute, the next minute you’re being attacked by SPECTRE. That’s kind of what Balkan “Gypsy music” is all about. It makes just about as much sense as an American Gypsy band can make anyway. All humor aside, Beirut is a serious band. After discovering Balkan folk music at an early age, Zach Condon formed the band when he was only 23. Condon’s talent must have been apparent early; hooking up with some major talent early on in his music career helped him turn his early home recordings into some memorable albums. Their live show consists of a rotating cast of musicians playing a wide array of instruments; all complementing Condon’s abundant talent. These are the kind of feel good stories that make a band like Beirut so unique in today’s music landscape. Speaking of unique: their latest EP March of the Zapotec is a double release, half of which was inspired from Condon’s recent trip to Oaxaca, Mexico -- so much so that Zach went to the tiny village of Teotitlan del Valle to enlist the help of the 19 members of The Jiminez Band to record the album. This incredible experience he plans to share through a series of short films. Today’s Song of the Day, “The Akara,” is a wilting piece that comes together surprisingly well despite the clashing styles. Trumpets, ukuleles and snares are the sounds of the day. If you are looking for some unique new music, this should be right up your alley. Enjoy!

Beirut is playing Coachella this year before heading to Europe for a short tour. You can read more about the band on their fun website or listen to additional track on their MySpace page.

Here’s an interesting interview with Zach Condon from the German site viddinet.com:

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