Winter Women Holy Ghost Language School

Imagine you and I were having a conversation, and suppose I asked you who you thought my favorite guitarist of the moment is. For the sake of argument, let's say you said Thurston Moore. I would stare at you blankly in response, because you clearly didn't understand my question. Suppose you followed up with Jack White, in which case my whole body would heave in a fit of laughter because at that point I would know that you were surely fooling around with me. I would wipe a tear from my eyes and say, No, you're wrong. Funny, but still wrong. You could suggest Jesper Mortensen, a logical choice that would give me pause for reflection, but it would be a suggestion I would ultimately have to dismiss for the highly sought-after title of My Favorite Guitarist of the Moment.

Obviously, I would have no qualms about continuing in this obnoxious back-and-forth fashion until you realized that your only means of escape was to throttle my frail neck and run for cover. But I'll give you a hint: it has to do with the subject of this review, Matthew Friedberger, one-half the talent of the Fiery Furnaces. Yes, Mr. Friedberger, with his Frankenstein grace and complete irreverence for economy in songwriting, can set my sympathetic nervous system on high alert like no other just by picking up a six-string. If my lower intestines were ever to spontaneously animate and burst out of my abdomen, wrapping themselves around a thousand guitars with ten thousand puckered fingertips, I reckon the sound they would make would be a close approximation to the noise generated by one Matthew Friedberger.

So it's no surprise my excitement level was at an all-time high when I learned that Mr. Friedberger intended to release not one, but two new albums this summer: an operatic story record of experimental design, and a summery pop album featuring, and I quote, "a lot of guitar solos." Sweet devilish symphony! What more could a nerdy music critic ask for? Well, more guitar solos for starters. Winter Women, the guitar-based pop half of Mr. Friedberger's double-solo record, features prominent use of player piano, keyboards, synthesized strings, flutes, and programmed beats, but disparingly few mind-altering guitar solos. Nevertheless, one key characteristic that distinguishes Friedberger fans is their high tolerance for musical masochism: the more your desired guitar solo is withheld and obfuscated, the more ecstatic it sounds when it's finally unleashed.

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