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Cutting Up 

The Fiery Furnaces are scheduled for a New Orleans show after two previous cancellations

8 p.m. Sat., Jan. 30

One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361;

Tickets $12

Fiery Furnaces with Drug Rug

11 p.m. Sat., Jan 30

One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361;

Tickets $16

click to enlarge record-1.jpg

I'm Going Away (Thrill Jockey), the latest album from Brooklyn rockers the Fiery Furnaces, opens with a quiet wink to their back catalog: 40 minutes of instrumental samples culled from six previous album openers. The next five tracks are spoken-word ramblings a la Charles Bukowski. Buy another record, however, sync the instrumental stretch with the Bukowski rants, and the sounds magically fuse, creating the perfect song.

  This isn't true at all. It's an imaginary review of I'm Going Away written by a particularly imaginative fan well before its July 2009 release. And its 335 words are mere pebbles pulled from the avalanche of submissions the band received — nearly 50,000 words in total — after posting a call for "deaf descriptions" of its seventh LP on its Web site (

  "That got a lot of responses," says Matt Friedberger, who co-founded the Furnaces in 2000 with sister and co-singer Eleanor Friedberger (the group now includes drummer Bob D'Amico and former Sebadoh guitarist Jason Loewenstein). "For a band like us, it was a lot. It was a joke: the experience of having someone describe a record to you, then you hear it and you don't know what the hell they were talking about. Many record reviews read as though they never heard the record, so that was the idea."

  It's a playfully inspired move, if not exactly an unexpected one. The siblings have one full-length album titled EP (2005); another, Remember (2008), is a schizophrenic double disc that stitches together 132 minutes of live song snippets. The latter seems like self-parody, considering the Furnaces' habit of eschewing traditional set lists in favor of constantly changing, breakneck medleys. But Matt swears it's serious.

  "It went perfectly according to plan," he says with a betraying laugh. "It's not like a lot of other records. I think Remember isn't necessarily difficult. It's difficult if you're expecting something else. But if you're in a different mood, it's a lot of fun."

  He does concede I'm Going Away — the band's most straightforward collection of bluesy, lounge-y pop songs since EP — is something of a make-good companion piece to its more eccentric predecessor. After years of recording in "nice studios," the band captured most of the album live in D'Amico's basement and Eleanor's living room. "We wanted to have one that was very simple and short and amiable, that would sound like people playing in a room when they got off work, something like that," Matt says. "Remember is about going around, and I'm Going Away is about sitting around."

  This stop in New Orleans, an unassociated twin bill with Jonathan Richman, is likewise a make-good visit. The Furnaces last played here in fall 2004. Two previously scheduled stops were scuttled at the last minute: in 2005, by Hurricane Katrina; then in 2008, by the nightclub Republic. It's the highlight of this tour, says Matt, whose description of his Meters cover band with D'Amico — King's Crescent — is accompanied by more dubious laughter.

  "It's totally true!" he insists. "It's great for me, because it's so much one-handed (organ) playing, real Hammond playing, you know."

  Might we hear a rejiggered version of "Chicken Strut" at One Eyed Jacks, then? "There's a chance," Matt says coyly. "Is that a sacrilege to do that? It's one thing to do that in Nova Scotia, but to do that in New Orleans, I don't know if that's respectful."


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