Death Cab for Cutie guitarist/producer Chris Walla recently founded his own label, Trans, part of Warner Music’s Independent Label Group. Straight out of Anacortes, Washington, The Lonely Forest are his first signing, and Arrows, their first album under Walla’s supervision, dropped on March 22. Kick ass, right? (Keep reading to find out)!
Well, maybe not so kick ass. The Lonely Forest play straightforward indie pop, a simple sound incorporating occasional piano and strings. Singer John Van Deusen wasn’t very much blessed with the gift of writing lyrics, and unfortunately he often wines rather than sings, sounding a bit like Chris Carrabba’s of Dashboard Confessional. In fact, what the album does best is remind me of other bands. I’d classify them as Jimmy Eat World meets Dashboard Confessional, with some Nada Surf and Death Cab thrown in, but I’m sure you, the reader, could come up with one of dozens of possible combinations. My roommate points out that Van Deusen sounds like Ryan Miller of Guster–isn’t this game fun!
The Lonely Forest’s music can be catchy at times, but the band lacks a distinctive voice in a sea of indie pop artists (try thinking about that image without cringing). Their sound lacks emotion and feels like it was manufactured with the audience in mind rather than being crafted according to any artistic vision. They broke onto the Seattle music scene by taking first prize at the Experience Music Project battle of the bands, but now it seems like they’re riding on Chris Walla’s coattails and struggling to hold on. Walla has produced for many bands, including Nada Surf, The Decemberists, Hot Hot Heat, Rocky Votolato, and even Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. When it came to signing a band to his own record label, I guess the pressure was too much for him. Although, he may be able to swindle a chunk of cash from the hoards of pre-teens who could care less about originality.
The album begins with a quiet number featuring acoustic guitar and vocals, supported by strings, but picks up the pace with the second track. The title of the second track? “Turn Off This Song And Go Outside.” Don’t mind if I do.
– Adam Greenberg, co-host dc ba (Mondays 9-10pm)