what’s on this brooklyn band’s stereo?

by liza darwin

On their previous efforts and forthcoming album The Rip Tide, Brooklyn indie outfit Beirut prove that you don't need screaming vocals and thumping beats to get the musical message across. With jaunty rhythms, frontman Zach Condon's deep voice and even a ukulele cameo on their single "East Harlem," the band wraps up their folk-rock sound nicely into one very consistent package. But check out the playlist from bassist Paul Collins below and you'll see that the group's musical taste is a little more all over the place, from Brazilian pop to instrumental to yes, even Captain Beefheart.

Jorge Ben - O Filósofo

“África Brasil” is arguably the greatest MPB (Brazilian pop music) album of all time. Each track has a charm and intensity that only exists in Ben's music.  I've always imagined the album to act as Brazil's “Thriller”.

Giorgio Moroder – From Here to Eternity

Have you ever wondered where Daft Punk got their swagger?  This track might unlock the door.  Moroder is a late night favorite on Beirut tours.

Julian Lynch – Fort Collins

Lynch manages to pull together influences as diverse as the Smithsonian Folk Archives, and Carnatic Saxophone, making music that is at once deeply personal and challenging, yet mellow.  “Terra” has consistently stayed on my turntable since its release earlier this year.

Wendell Stuart & The Downbeaters – My World is Empty Without You

West Indies Funk at it's best.  This song was popularized by The Supremes, but Wendell Stuart kills it.  You can almost hear the palm trees swaying outside the studio.

Captain Beefheart – Tropical Hotdog Night

I play this song when I DJ and it always kills.  A great entry point to Beefheart's somewhat intimidating catalog of music.  It also might be the weirdest party jam in existence.

T.L. Barrett and the Youth For Christ Choir – Like a Ship (Without a Sail)

I was on tour somewhere.  I felt busted.  It was noon and I had just woken up.  I stepped inside a record store.  This track was playing.  A warmth came over my whole body.  It was as if the recording baptized me.  Perfect music, in my opinion.   

Cartola – Peito Vazio

Cartola became a huge part of my life after visiting Brazil.  He is one of Samba music's true masters.  If you want to know what “Saudade” means, just listen to this song.

Ennio Morricone – Il Ritorno di Ringo

This is a track that hit the Beirut camp like a mortar.  Epic, sad, triumphant…

A Hawk and A Hacksaw - Lajtha Lassu

Jeremy Barnes is such a titan, that sometime people overlook Heather Trost.  This is her arrangement.  It is easily one of the most beautiful songs AHAAH has ever recorded.

Brian Eno – Big Ship

I was drinking with Zach one afternoon.  I put this song on for him and told him, “This sounds like a Beirut song without vocals”.  Then he sang.I wish I could have recorded that moment.

The Rip Tide drops in August. Until then, listen to more Beirut here.