by Forest Fire on FatCat RecordsReleased 11/10/2011
'The News’ is the first single to be taken from Forest Fire’s electrifying new full-length, Staring At The X. Their FatCat debut (following 2008’s Survival, released in the UK on Broken Sound Records), the new album rejects the ‘what’s next’ attitude plaguing so many of the NYC/Brooklyn scene, innovating at their own pace while maintaining a traditionalist’s focus on songwriting.
Survival’s “cosmic Americana” acquired favourable comparisons to Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver, and – as acknowledged by the Guardian’s Paul Lester – demonstrated “a general air of beat-poet cool and a careless articulacy to the lyrics that heightens the impression of the band as quintessential SoHo bohos.” Staring At The X, and its singles, however, are already trailed with references to Television, Pink Floyd and Velvet Underground as well as to the band’s existing contemporaries: Forest Fire renew the focus on instant-classic hooks and lyrics that bring to mind the Walkmen or Phosphorescent, but bring a new complexity to their sound. Singer / songwriter Mark 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 the aforementioned NYC-pop/noise innovators (the band’s recent live performances, especially, bring to mind the Velvets with long-form, restless “Sister Ray”-style extended jams) and romantic, darkly insistent British new-wave-styled pop.
‘The News’ is backed with non-album cut ‘To Be Honest’, taken from the same recording sessions.
Forest Fire (Thresher, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Nathan Delffs, bassist/multi-instrumentalist Natalie Stormann, drummer Robert Pounding, and producer/keyboardist Adam Spittler) 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 reissuing 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.” FatCat plan to reissue Survival in early 2012.
Forest Fire has spent much of the time between releases touring, crossing Europe three times last year – once supporting Phosphorescent, and twice headlining their own shows and playing festival dates, including 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.