Back to the Future: How Fiery Furnaces Came to Pass

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Brooklyn indie-rock duo the Fiery Furnaces comes to Walter's on Washington tonight behind last year's

I'm Going Away

and it's quasi-remix album

Take Me Round Again

. The brother and sister team of Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger come from a long lineage of likeminded indie skronkers. Being a related twosome doesn't hurt either when it comes to shorthand comparisons, even if it is a little limiting. It's hard for most people to not lump them in with those two-tone kids from Detroit. The band has released their Rough Trade debut,

Gallowsbird's Bark

, in 2003 and immediately found themselves as that year's indie-darlings. By the next year they were holding down stages at Coachella and most of the bigger destination festivals. Blueberry Boat came in 2004 and the concept album was met with praise and a few perplexed looks from the bloggerati who weren't prepared for such a thing from the Friedbergers. 2006's

Bitter Tea

was a Suicide and Devo-steeped set of creepy electronics beds and Eleanor singing like a crazed Nico on speed. To this day it is a expert example of indie headphone rock. The more straightforward

Widow City

came out the next fall on Thrill Jockey and live the tracks reached nearly cock-rock heights with the album's guitar lines getting magnified dramatically. It got loud. Very loud for an album referencing a holy city in Northern India. A biopsy of the Furnaces' sound brings takes you through a Who's Who of the past forty years of fantastic freaks who didn't cotton to industry ways. What can you really say about the Captain that hasn't been said before?

White Stripes "Hotel Yorba"

Early on, the Stripes were the closest cousin to the Furnaces sound, but Meg and Jack quickly pulled away and off onto the back of


and the even more layered

Get Behind Me Satan

three short years later.

Moldy Peaches

Largely broken up since 2004, the Moldy Peaches got a huge push by 2007's


soundtrack while a whole third generation of kids discovered freak-folk for themselves.

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band

The herky-jerky sonics of the Furnaces were very much birthed by Captain Beefheart's crazy genius braincasing. One spin of Beefheart's Ice Cream For Crow will rot your brain in the best way possible.

Violent Femmes

The energy in the Femmes is heard in the Furnaces, and actually Gordon Gano and Eleanor Friedberger's voices sound like they are long-lost twins.

Royal Trux

For 14 years, the Royal Trux duo of Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema burned through the land on a Stonesy blues wail and an ear for the burgeoning grunge phenomenon. The couple broke up in 2001 and the band soon followed suit. Singer-guitarist Hagerty can now be found in the Howling Hex and Herrema still rocks Trux outgrowth RTX.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.