MP3: Mtns are Mtns
Pitchfork has premiered the Sophia Peer-directed video (short film, really) for “The News,” the first single from Forest Fire’s FatCat debut, Staring At The X, which was released Oct. 18.
This gorgeous, strange clip finds the band members in hot water when a find from a field expedition turns into a party-threatening monster. A combination of beautifully-staged live action group shots and intercut animation make a great match for the track’s mix of infectious hooks and curious sonic textures.
Sophia Peer’s CV includes music videos for Yeasayer, Woods, Delicate Steve, and others, as well as graphic video design for MTV and Pitchfork TV.
Forest Fire will be touring Europe in November/December and plan on crossing the US early in 2012.
With their sophomore record, Forest Fire – songwriter/vocalist Mark Thresher, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Nathan Delffs, bassist/multi-instrumentalist Natalie Stormann, drummer Robert Pounding, and producer/keyboardist Adam Spittler – reject the what’s next-next attitude plaguing so many of the NYC/Brooklyn scene, innovating sonically at their own pace while maintaining a traditionalist’s focus on songwriting. Staring At The X is an electrifying leap forward from the “cosmic Americana” of their lauded debut, Survival, which was named one of 2009’s top ten albums by Rough Trade Shops, and album of the year by La Blogotheque.
For their latest, self-recorded effort, Forest Fire renew the focus on instant-classic hooks and lyrics that have earned them favorable comparisons with contemporaries like the Walkmen or occasional tourmates Phosphorescent, but bring a new complexity to their sound. As Thresher explains, “This record is our attempt to be more of an ambitious songwriter/rock band, rather than a weird folk band.”
This new ambition pays dividends. Staring At The X brings together swaggering, guitar-led breakdowns that recall NYC forebears VU or Television (the band’s recent live performances, especially, bring to mind the Velvets with long-form, restless “Sister Ray”-style extended jams) with romantic, darkly insistent British new-wave-styled pop; even Floyd-worthy extended space-outs make an appearance, particularly in sinister, doom-motorik album centerpiece “They Pray Execution Style.”
From album opener “Born Into” with its insinuating buildup and fuzzed melodic counterpoints, through the infectious, sharp-as-a-knife chorus of first single “The News” (“you won’t get far/with that look in your eyes”); from ghosty Buddy Holly rave-down “Blank Appeal,” which cuts guitar buzzwalls into its last-slowdance pacing, through post-apocalyptic lament “Visions In Plastic,” which closes the record – Staring At The X is tied together by Thresher’s soulful, world-weary drawl, backed at times by guest vocalist Shilpa Ray, as well as Stormann (who takes over lead vocal responsibilities once, to haunting effect, on “They Pray Execution Style”).
First preview track “Future Shadows” foregrounds a driving mix of organic and electronic percussion and bass pop alongside Thresher’s vocal, delivering death-reflective lyrics like the eerie, knowing “like shadows, we’ll leave/when the time comes,” bolstered by a thrumming float of synth and searing guitar punctuations.
Forest Fire were originally discovered by tastemaking blogger Ryan Catbird after he randomly downloaded some of their music on a filesharing site because he liked the band name. He released their debut album, Survival, on his own label in 2008; Infinite Best reissued it in the US in 2009 (with Broken Sound and Talitres handling Europe). La Blogotheque declared Survival its top record of the year in 2008, calling it “raw and powerful… like a drug-hazed stroll through the history of song.” Upon its 2009 reissue, Rough Trade Shops declared Survival one of the top ten records of the year, along with the likes of The xx, Grizzly Bear, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and Animal Collective; in their writeup, the indie shop giant called the record “an absolute revelation.” FatCat plan to reissue Survival in early 2012.
Forest Fire has spent much of the years between releases touring, crossing Europe three times last year – once supporting Phosphorescent, and twice headlining their own shows and playing festival dates, including the UK’s End Of The Road and France’s Route Du Rock. They’ve shared stages with the likes of Sharon Van Etten (who contributed guest vocals to Survival), Xiu Xiu, Papercuts, Gang Gang Dance, Psychedelic Horseshit, Anna Calvi, Julianna Barwick and Cass McCombs, among others.
Staring At The X
Street Date: Oct. 18, 2011
1. Born Into (3:04)
2. Future Shadows (4:10)
3. The News (2:32)
4. They Pray Execution Style (6:26)
5. Staring At The X (3:00)
6. Blank Appeal (4:17)
7. Mtns Are Mtns (2:42)
8. Visions In Plastic (8:28)