Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased tracks, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Roosevelt Island” by Eleanor Friedberger from her 2011 album Last Summer on Merge Records.
Since the early 2000s, Eleanor Freidberger and her brother Matthew have been recording albums (9 in all) and touring as the Fiery Furnaces — you might have heard of them. As the primary vocalist for the versatile brother-and-sister duo, it was clear that the female Friedberger possessed a unique talent in her own right, and so it came as no surprise when it was announced that Eleanor would be venturing off into solo territory, recording her debut album, Last Summer, in 2010… last summer (don’t worry, the Fiery Furnaces are still very much together). THIS summer, a few weeks ago in July, the album was released on Merge Records and music outlets and common fans alike have only been speaking of it glowingly. The music is markedly reminiscent of all that we have come to love about the Fiery Furnaces, while at the same time highlighting Eleanor’s particular ability to shine as a solo performer.
Today’s featured song, “Roosevelt Island,” is an oddly descriptive and detailed account of a day trip to Roosevelt Island, with Friedberger paying little attention to things like rhyme or traditional phrasal spacing, the lyrics instead flowing out of her like a kind of wandering narrative: “The time we took the tram down to Roosevelt Island / You made me feel more like I was more like you than like me… I like that!”
As is often the case with the Fiery Furnaces’ albums, Last Summer touches on a number of different instrumental styles and influences. Predominating “Roosevelt Island” is funk, with Stevie Wonder-ish bass and keyboard lines highlighting a richly layered and lilting collection of backing instrumentation. Combined with Friedbrerger’s free-form, “go-wherever-I-feel-like” vocal style, the music reminds one of a female version of Destroyer.
Eleanor Friedberger will be kicking off a fall tour on August 22 in New York City, but a stop in Seattle doesn’t seem to be on her itinerary. She will, however, be playing at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC on Monday, September 5, and at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland on Wednesday, September 7. She will be opening for The Kills for both shows. For more info on Friedberger’s upcoming tour, visit her website here. While we’re waiting for her tour to come through the Northwest, enjoy the video for “My Mistakes,” the single from Last Summer: