Tall Firs - Out Of It And Into It [2012] [FLAC]

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Artist: Tall Firs
Release: Out Of It And Into It
Discogs: 3650841
Released: 2012
Label: ATP Recordings
Catalog#: ATPRCD43
Format: CD
Country: Europe
Style: Rock, Folk Rock


01. Suffer So Long 3:50
02. Waiting On A Friend 4:01
03. Axeman 2:20
04. Suicide 2:35
05. I Couldn't Say It To Your Face (Written By Arthur Russell) 2:43
06. Vertigo 2:11
07. Crooked Smiles 3:50
08. Edge Of The World 3:30
09. Whole Thing Is Over 3:00
10. Lullaby Of Babylon 2:32
11. Loss For Words 3:08

Tall Firs are neo-folkies, but don't confuse them with the beard twirling, autoharp-strumming breed of sprites of the early 2000s. The New York City-based duo perform at coffeehouse volume, but their core inspiration has always owed more to Tom Verlaine than Alan Lomax. Aaron Mullan and Dave Mies rarely strum a chord. Instead, they form their songs from the back-and-forth dialogue between crisp and clean riffs on open-tuned electric guitars. There's a hint of old-school country music-- primarily in the sparse arrangements and solemn sentiments of their lyrics-- but they've bleached out any audible trace of twang.
Their third album, Out of It and Into It, arrived last March in the UK via ATP recordings, but is only now seeing a US release, possibly timed to the their upcoming tour supporting Neutral Milk Hotel-guru, Jeff Mangum.
Percussion played only a modest roll in Tall Firs debut record, but for 2008's Too Old to Die Young, they brought on drummer Ryan Sawyer to balance out their ethereal plucking with some earthly pummel. The result was a minor detour toward the avant-roots rock sounds of latter day Sonic Youth, for whom Mullan had long worked as a studio and live sound engineer. They pulled it off better than most, though. The steady pulse helped to anchor the songs, giving the guitarists free reign to noodle between verses.
On Out of It and Into It, Tall Firs are once again a duo and they've dialed the volume back accordingly, delivering a quieter, more reflective set. They still have the riffs, but without the snap of a snare drum to keep things in line, the chiming guitars become repetitive and amorphous.
If there's one area that Tall Firs excel as songwriters, it's in conjuring up nostalgia for stoner days gone by. "We were acid-crazed teenage tweak-outs, those booze fueled days of pills and freak-outs," sang Mullan, in the opening verse of Too Old's leadoff track, conscious that one of the best things about the good old days was that they were over. "Hairdo", the tune that owed the most to Mullan's then employers, was a rose-colored backward glance at hipster romance.
They have another winner along the same lines here with "Crooked Smiles", a call to getting ugly. "Let's turn this mother out/ let's bring the ship about," sings Mullan. "Let's blow it all tonight/ crooked smiles all right." Of the two singers, Mullan is the more naturally tuneful, but on Out of It, Mies gets the majority of the mic time. During the record's most subdued moments, his limited range and gravely delivery sometimes spoil the mood.
Tall Firs are skilled interpreters, though, and they have consistently picked good covers, most of them drawn from the darker corners of 90s indie rock. The band's debut found them pulling off a spooky take of D.C. witch-rock trio Quix*o*tic's "The Breeze". Their Soundcloud page is dotted with stark and solemn re-do's of indie-rock gone by-- including Hot Snakes' "This Mystic Decade" and Scrawl's "Prize".
Here, Mies takes on "I Couldn't Say it to Your Face", from Arthur Russell's early works compilation, Love is Overtaking Me. They trade out the R&B feel of the original for a stark arrangement that sounds like it could have come out of a living room jam session between Texas strummers Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark. Mies strains, but he hits the notes and touches on some of the weirdo innocence that made the original so affecting. But put one against another, Russell's version wins out. It had the stronger pulse.
01 - Suffer So Long .flac 18.755 MB
02 - Waiting On A Friend .flac 18.791 MB
03 - Axeman .flac 11.871 MB
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