Search - Matthew Friedberger :: Winter Women & Holy Ghost Language School

Winter Women & Holy Ghost Language School
Matthew Friedberger
Winter Women & Holy Ghost Language School
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #2

The brother dude from shape-shifting, postmodern indie blues-rock brother and sister (for real) act the Fiery Furnaces has made a solo record?two solo records in fact, separate discs inside one clam shell. The first showca...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Matthew Friedberger
Title: Winter Women & Holy Ghost Language School
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 1
Label: 859 Recordings
Release Date: 8/8/2006
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Style: Indie & Lo-Fi
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPCs: 890256001001, 890256001056

The brother dude from shape-shifting, postmodern indie blues-rock brother and sister (for real) act the Fiery Furnaces has made a solo record?two solo records in fact, separate discs inside one clam shell. The first showcases his poppy side while the other display's the guy's noisier tendencies. It's a casual reminder of the guy's talent. Prior to starting the Furnaces he'd fronted other acts, including Corndolly, Liquorette, the Mezzanines and Grand Vizars. There's a gently, gnome-ish, Mellotron-plus-groove-box vibe throughout the pop disc, Winter Women, that's warm and inviting throughout. The "noise" record is awash in loud MIDI crashes and plonky keyboards; songs alternate between strangely cute instrumentals and plodding numbers with spoken word, as if Lee Ranaldo gatecrashed Stephen Merrit ca. 1995. The whole thing clocks in a bit long and would make a far better single disc, but if one is to begin to piddle about editorial decisions that's kind of beside the point. Fans will delight in the thing, while non-fans will most likely scratch their heads and walk away. --Mike McGonigal

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CD Reviews

SirTheory | 08/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"It seems that after 5 Fiery Furnace albums the critics are tiring of Matthew Friedberger. The general agreement seems to be that of this two disc set "Winter Woman" has some decent songs but is too long and "Holy Ghost Language School" is just absolutely terrible. Granted, these are the same critics who say the FFs peaked with "Blueberry Boat" and thought "Rehearsing My Choir" was the worst cd last year.

I was one of the weird people who loved "Rehearsing My Choir." Everything about it was perfect, from the Shatner-aspiring grandmother, to the repeating musical motifs... everything. So naturally I definitely find "Holy Ghost Language School" to be them more interesting of the two albums Friedberger has presented us. "HGLS" is definitely the more expirimental of the two albums, complete with vague lyrical storyline (or focus) and Friedberger spoken word. Rather than just being a subpar "Rehearsing My Choir" it is similar only for comparrison's sake. It has it's own identity and has it's own unique features, both musically and compositionally.

"Winter Woman" on the other hand is billed as Friedberger's pop album. The fact that people actually took him seriously and expected Michael Jackson or something is really funny. Critics and consumers should be aware by now that what the Friedbergers consider "pop" and what the rest of the world considers "pop" are two vastly different things. Thus it is no surprise when "Winter Woman" spins in familiar Fiery Furnace territory. The songs are nice, though don't particularly tread new ground.

So five stars for "Holy Ghost..." and three for "Winter Woman" averages into a nice four stars."
Johnny Utah | from the band "Blues Hammer" | 08/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Bought it, flipped it on once... and found it to be blurry and a bit impenetrable. Winter Women is the "pop" album? Sounds pretty "out there" to me! The goods news, though, is that - like the Fiery Furnaces themselves - it just takes some time to take shape, but once it does it'll bring a smile to your face.

Well, I don't think Matt is going to win over any new fans with this, and people who are new to the Fiery Furnaces would do well to start with something else (see: "EP" or "Gallowsbird's Bark")... so Ill review this from the standpoint of someone who already appreciates them.

The production value on Winter Women is weird... sort of muffled, and the vocals just seem too low in the mix. But it starts to make sense after a while. To me this is headphones music, plain and simple. It's the perfect headphones music, because there is so much to discover, and yet it doesn't require your full undivided attention, so you can listen to it while you work and discover it at your own pace. There definitely are some wonderfully weird "pop" moments mixed into Winter Women. It'll hit you in the gut every so often. And although it's over an hour in length, it floats by smoothly and doesn't overstay its welcome (whereas I think that "Blueberry Boat" kind of does).

Then there is "Holy Ghost Language" school. So yeah, I guess it's a bit more experimental, but it also has a more crisp production and some genuinely rocking moments, so it's a good contrast. Of the two albums, this one is also more of a departure from standard Fiery Furnaces fare, in a good way. Whereas you'll recognize some of the tricks on "Winter Women", this one seems more fresh and new, and it's great to see how many tricks this dude still has up his sleave. Interestingly, I think that "Holy Ghost" does get a bit long in the teeth towards the end even though it's only 45 minutes in length, but now that I think about it, that is pretty much my only compaint about this entire 2 disc package, and it's a minor one.

Overall, there is a lot here to be excited about. Sure it's experimental and difficult at times, but thank God there are still artists out there willing to take risks and try out new things. You gotta love the prolificness, and the fact that the quality remains so high despite of it. If you take some time with these albums, you'll be rewarded for it.

AN ASIDE--Just wanted to squeeze in a little Pitchforkmedia smack down (if they had any sort of interactivity on their site I wouldnt need to do this)... it's hilarious to me that they've sort of thrown FF and Friedberger under the bus with their recent reviews. Leave it to those fools to harsh on the buzz of one of the most unique indie rock artists in the world today, but wait, didn't they harsh on the Liars when they put out "Drowned", but then claim that their new one was the best thing since sliced bread (even though it was pretty much the exact same album, if not slightly inferior?!?) Swami predicts that the Pitchfork losers will find some arbitrary reason to start trumpeting FF again, but if not, I just hope that it doesn't discourage too many people from recognizing how great these guys are. On the one hand, I think it's cool b/c it means less annoying hype, but on the other hand they deserve to do well."
Stay Solo
Vance | 08/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Having listened to some Fiery Furnaces, I must say that I hope Matthew goes it alone from now on. This is great melodic quirky stuff that gets better and better with the listening."