New Music

CD Review: The Lonely Forest, ‘We Sing The Body Electric!’

(Burning Building Recordings, released April 21, 2009)

The sources of new music for me are many. Recommendations from friends, reading music reviews, and once in a while, a chance radio experience. While listening to the local college station here in Atlanta recently, I heard a song that I had to find. I called The Lonely Forest - We Sing The Body Electric! (2009, CD) | DiscogsAlbum 88 (Georgia State University’s WRAS) and the DJ told me it was “We Sing In Time” by the Anacortes, WA band The Lonely Forest. My mission was clear: get that album. Following a brief search, I broke down and bought the download.

After several listens into We Sing The Body Electric!, I had discovered the music that would move into heavy rotation on my iPod for the next few weeks. The band, consisting of John Van Deusen (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Bradyn Krueger (drums), Eric Sturgeon (bass, vocals), and Tony Ruland (guitar), so far have only limited tour experience, mainly throughout the state of Washington. Upon winning a local competition, the EMP Soundoff, the band recorded the new album with producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden) as the prize. More positive exposure came when Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla dropped their name in a CNN interview. To quote Walla, “There’s a band from Seattle called the Lonely Forest whose record I just picked up. They’re a new band, it came out few weeks ago, and that’s totally doing it for me right now.” Coming from Indie rock’s current kings, that cannot hurt.

The Lonely Forest’s sound has been compared to the likes of Guided By Voices, the Hold Steady, and Built To Spill. I hear clear parallels to fellow Washingtonians Death Cab For Cutie. But when all is said and done, TLF has created a new and fresh sound for lucky listeners everywhere.

The first track from The Body Electric! is “Two Pink Pills,” an ode to Benadryl as a sleep aid. Apparently, Van Deusen had a mild “addiction” to this over-the-counter medication (“I hear a voice, it’s faint and weak / Two pink pills to fall asleep”). The song begins innocent enough with sparse harmonies, but soon evolves into a rocker.

“We Sing In Time” is the first single and is pure pop perfection, with excellent vocals by Van Deusen and top-notch musicianship by all (“In Time the trees die and light will fade / But I hope for a new breath, a new life to take me away”).

From the expansive sound of “Far Outer Banks” to the minimalism of “For Julia,” this record fires on all cylinders and has, in my opinion, something for everyone. If you’re needing something to raise your heart rate, put in the earbuds and crank up “Centennial.” Van Deusen sprinkles in piano throughout The Body Electric! which adds much to the already layered sound.

My hope is that some bigtimers looking for a solid opener will tap these fellows for a tour and soon. I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from The Lonely Forest (a guest slot on Conan O’Brien would be perfect).

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