One of the records I’ve been spinning a lot lately is the new one from Brooklyn’s Forest Fire. Staring at the X continues the band’s warped take on folk music that began so promisingly on 2008 debut Survival. In case you missed it, one of the songs – the VU-inspired fuzz/folk of “Slow Motion” – was a favorite of mine that year. These new songs stretch into all sorts of strange and impressive directions; it’s one of the more expansive sounding 34-minute records you’re likely to come across and a great leap forward for the band. The production is fleshed out considerably over the debut, giving the new album a sense of being a modern, albeit skewed, update on folk styles instead of a batch of campfire jams. Songs like “The News”, “Future Shadows”, and lead single “Mtns Are Mtns” go so far as to exude some pop elements – echoing keyboards, background vocals, and choruses you want to shout along with. On the album’s back half the songs take on a bit more of a dark vibe – highlight “Blank Appeal” sounds like a buzzing folk death march in, er, slow motion. There aren’t many bands out there that sound much like Forest Fire, but I think a good frame of reference might be Pink Mountaintops’ excellent Outside Love, which combined folk-based songs with elements of psyche-rock and layers of warm fuzz. Regardless, Staring at the X sounds pretty singular in the current indie-rock world – its weird, wonderful songs just waiting to be discovered and explored.
MP3 :: Mtns Are Mtns
(from Staring at the X. Buy here)