"Borneo" by Firewater
Following Tod A.'s disbanding of industrial-plus-melody ensemble Cop Shoot Cop, he started Firewater in 1995 with the intention of strip-mining everything shunted into the "world music" category: klezmer, Turkish pop, whatever. The band's first album in four years was recorded over nearly three in India, Pakistan, Turkey, and Israel—mostly in a studio in the latter, and constantly leavened with laptop recordings from everywhere else. Few have ever globe-trotted with such conservative results: The Golden Hour is epic pop, angling most of its songs around the four-minute mark and always aiming for an obvious melody and soaring chorus. Unlike Britpop bands who do the same, the lyrics don't suffer from bland romance; instead, they're full of passionate but rote anti-Bush sentiment ("Your mere existence is the worst bad dream that I ever knew"). When stretching things out to an hour, Firewater—a predecessor to Gogol Bordello, Beirut, and any other indie group assimilating Balkan-esque influences—haven't made a record as concise or clever as it should have been, but they can still knock out an anthem ("6:45") with refreshing confidence.