The Tall Firs recent self-titled album has rehabilitated my fidelity to the 5:54 a.m. sunrise as the most glorious, picturesque sight in all the land. This album is the sacred American institution of folk rock, reinterpreted for people that grew up enclosed by concrete instead of the rolling hills in America’s Graceland. It is undemanding, charming and most importantly, beardless.
The match-up of guitarists Aaron Mullan and Dave Mies, in their ceaseless battle of wit and clamor, paired against Ryan Sawyer’s muddy and chaotic thumping, render the atmosphere dark but soothing to the ear. Ecstatic Peace!, Tall Firs’ label, has to be, well, ecstatic to put out such a refreshing sound.
All the members of Tall Firs have existed in some sort of musical arena before collaborating on this latest mission. Most notably is probably Sawyer, who as a youth was one of ‘At the Drive In’s’ first drummers. Guitarist and vocalist Mullan has existed as a studio aficionado, recording various albums for a range of individuals.
Mies, the contrasting guitarist, inhabited a scuzz-rock scene in Baltimore, Md. before heading up north to New York City. They all hail from dissimilar musical backgrounds and the individuality within such collectivity is extremely stimulating.
The album begins with the sarcastic title “More to Come,” which is ironic only because it is the worst song on the album and thankfully, there is more to come. Tall Firs is one of those albums meant to be experienced in its entirety. Put simply, the album flows like DUI’s in Northern Colorado and only gets better with each song.
After the mild turbulence of the opening track, the album reigns in a string of 747s. “Go Whiskey” is the first song that really starts to show potential by incorporating a lot of media. The organ is a haunting drone while the bells agitate and itch, in a good way.
As the band moves along the “Road to Ruin,” the actual Tall Firs really begin to portray its urban reclamation, combining the smell of New York City and the feel of an evening on the prairie. The album slows down a bit but not before the song “The Woods” bombards the unique style of the Tall Firs with the fashionable “noise” scene of New York City. The song is basically one of folkloric enthusiasm with a constant barrage of vivacious floor toms and the deafening mutilation of the symbols. In my opinion, it is the best song on the album.
Tall Firs is a sure recommendation for early mornings and late nights. Electric folk rock is a seemingly new experience and has an entirely different feel than its predecessor. The dueling guitars, both electric and acoustic, give the aroma of a harsh mellow. However, the divergent noise works quite well and the album illustrates it magnificently.
KCSU volunteer Ben Blascoe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.