The Lonely Forest are about to head out on tour in support of their “big brother” Chris Walla and the rest of Death Cab for Cutie. I had the chance to check out their set and talk with the guys on their last tour through Minneapolis in April and wanted to share my thoughts and overall recommendation of the band with the fine readers of Driven Far Off. Also be sure to check out the full tour dates and ticket links for their roadshow with Death Cab and their album Arrows (read review | buy).
The Lonely Forest kicked off their April 2011 show Minneapolis somewhat quietly with “Turn off This Song and Go Outside.” No, the music was not lacking in decibels; rather, the four-piece simply did not waste a second to chat the crowd up, opting instead to let the music speak for itself. Folding into “(I Am) The Love Addict” with manic dancing and over-sized expressions on singer Jon Van Deusen’s face, the band set an above-average energy level for the set and never turned it down.
Van Deusen never missed a note as he wailed away. Braydn Krueger translated the full drumbeats from the album Arrows into a ravaging show – rivaling Animal from the Muppets on “Tunnels” – but also found time to sweetly provide high vocal harmonies. Bassist Eric Sturgeon briefly scaled the drum-set to swing from the ceiling, and guitarist Tony Ruland (somewhat painfully, it turns out) collapsed into the drum kit to end the set.
Rise to Prominence
The band’s energy level could easily fill a longer set and a bigger stage, but for now, the foursome say they’re comfortable with their slow rise after playing together for five years. While they joke about being “the tortoise” in the race towards prominence, the guys say they plan to continue doing what they know best. The plan? Make decisions focused on longevity and steadfastly avoid compromising gimmicks.
Not surprisingly, they’re down to earth and thankful for their success thus far. It’s a great feeling to be the first (and still only) band on Trans, Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie’s label, the boys say. “It’s like a science experiment… but definitely one with lots of good ingredients,” remarks Sturgeon.
And while Walla patiently waits for the right second signing to come along, The Lonely Forest are enjoying the spoils of being an only child on Trans. Though they may be guinea pigs, the guys feel that they’re in good hands, noting that Chris is not only easy to work with, but also “like a long-lost big brother who has shown up in your life and is awesome and takes you to the arcade.”
Music and Messages
That nature crops up repeatedly is not because of any agenda, says Ruland. Rather, he attributes the many references to nature to nurture: the boys grew up in Anacortes, Washington, with the Pacific in their backyards and evergreen forests in their front. Impressive natural environments are simply ever-present in their lives and therefore perhaps more present in their songs than in those of other contemporary rock bands, he adds.
The ability to produce songs about more than just heartbreak makes the band seem quite mature, and so it can be quite surprising to find out that lead singer Jon is just 23 years old. With all the energy and talent they’ve got, we can only hope* that the road ahead of the band stretches far into the distance and that The Lonely Forest may keep on singing in time together for a long time.
* (beyond buying an album or hitting up a show to support these guys, of course).
The Lonely Forest’s Arrows is a powerful major debut for the band from Washington state and for Death Cab For Cutie frontman Chris Walla’s new label, Trans. The album kicks off with “Be Everything”, which although a successfully heartfelt song, starts things off on a note that is just a touch too whiny. But keep listening. Or “Turn off This Song and Go Outside” as you’ll be told on the second track in its catchy chorus. No, but seriously, keep listening. This is an enjoyable album through and through.
John Van Deusen’s minor vocals are reminiscent of R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe at times with a sort of lazy quality. However, Van Deusen doesn’t quite hit the whiny peaks of Stipe. Throw in a little taste of the Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz and update it to 2011 with Vampire Weekend style “oohs” and “ahhs” and you’ve got the Lonely Forest’s vocal sound. The band supplies catchy riff and choruses one after another, but perhaps the most attention-grabbing attribute after the vocals is the relentless drum beats, fast and full-bodied, which power every song.
Already with “Turn off This Song and Go Outside”, the guys set a motif for the rest of the album: the Lonely Forest, as its name might imply, pumps out sad songs about fallen love, but also pulls nature into the mix quite a bit. This refreshing quality, moving beyond the well-covered songwriting territory of joys and sorrows of the heart, is best displayed in the album’s second single, “We Sing in Time”, which pulls in a political message without being too overtly preachy. The more big-picture philosophical questioning in “End It Now!” is also a treat for a mind seeking stimulation to think of something other than love.
Overall, I’m happy these bites are spinning on my hard drives and echoing in my head.
Here are some albums in stores today. Let us know what you will be picking up.
Death Cab For Cutie‘s new video for “Meet Me On The Equinox” can be seen here. The song is the lead single off the New Moon soundtrack.
The soundtrack to New Moon, the next movie in the Twilight saga, has been announced. The first single off the soundtrack is Death Cab For Cutie’s “Meet Me On The Equinox.” You can hear the track on the bands MySpace page. The New Moon soundtrack will be in stores on October 20th. Check out the track listing below.
1. Death Cab For Cutie ““ Meet Me On The Equinox
2. Band Of Skulls ““ Friends
3. Thom Yorke- Hearing Damage
4. Lykke Li ““ Possibility
5. The Killers – A White Demon Love Song
6. Anya Marina ““ Satellite Heart
7. Muse – I Belong To You (New Moon Remix)
8. Bon Iver and St. Vincent ““ Rosyln
9. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Done All Wrong
10. Hurricane Bells ““ Monsters
11. Sea Wolf ““ The Violet Hour
12. Ok Go- Shooting The Moon
13. Grizzly Bear – Slow Life
14. Editors ““ No Sound But The Wind
15. Alexandre Desplat ““ New Moon (The Meadow)
Check out the video for Death Cab For Cutie’s new single Grapevine Fires.
Death Cab For Cuite will be covering The Cure’s “Lovesong” on Starbucks Entertainment’s release Sweetheart: Our Favorite Artists Sing Their Favorite Love Songs – set for release on January 30th.
Death Cab for Cutie – ‘Lovesong’ (Cure cover)
Katy Perry – ‘Black and Gold’ (Sam Sparro cover)
DeVotchKa – ‘Hot Burrito #1 (I’m Your Toy)’ (Flying Burrito Brothers cover)
Department of Eagles – ‘Love Me’ (Elvis Presley cover)
Jessica Lea Mayfield – ‘Words of Love’ (Buddy Holly cover)
Ben Bridwell – ‘Your Love Is Forever’ (George Harrison cover)
Kate Tucker – ‘I’m on Fire’ (Bruce Springsteen cover)
Rogue Wave – ‘Maps’ (Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover)
A.C. Newman – ‘Take on Me’ (a-ha cover)
Jem – ‘Yellow’ (Coldplay cover)
Richard Hawley – ‘Early Morning Rain’ (Gordon Lightfoot cover)
Daniel Martin Moore – ‘I Hear Music’ (Billie Holiday cover)
She & Him – ‘I Put a Spell on You’ (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins cover)
Lila Downs – ‘My One and Only Love’ (Frank Sinatra cover)
Death Cab For Cutie recently peformed on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Check out the video below.
Death Cab For Cutie‘s recent performance on the Late Show with David Letterman can be seen below.