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Glass Rock – Tall Firs Meet Soft Location (Ecstatic Peace!)

November 30, 2009

Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace! has been chucking them out over the last few months. Dropping albums like an air raid attack, their autumn release schedule has been filled with beauties of the stateside indie music beast:  Samara Lubelski, Little Claw, Hush Arbors and now Glass Rock.

The latter, as the album title Tall Firs Meet Soft Location prescribes, is the happy conjugation of two bands spontaneously getting to know each other in the studio. Their marriage is well arranged, with both descending from similar strands of the electric folk generation. But together, their folk musings are overpowered by a more haunting and bluesy style that both parties were probably not expecting.

With their signature guitars jangling and echoing like a chandelier of vibraphones, Tall Firs have two Ecstatic releases under their belt already – including 2008’s Too Old To Die Young. But even just after one rotation of their Glass Rock outing, it feels in retrospect like their prior releases have always been nervously waiting at the bus stop for Soft Location to arrive.

Especially for the soulful whimper of Kathy Leisen’s vocals that reign and ache all over the album, a record that leaks vulnerable love songs and is emotionally stacked like a house of cards. Practically purring on tracks like ‘Possession’, Leisen lingers over acoustic twangs and a singular drumbeat that grows steadily more powerful, like an overwhelmed heart beating in the presence of new love. And when she hits the high notes on ‘U R Not Lonely’, it’s like the glazed cherry on the deep and juicy bass creeping below her.

All in all, Glass Rock create the effect of stumbling across a sticky dive bar filled with chewing tobacco, haggard wooden tables etched with the names of one-night-only lovers, and a forgotten bar singer who all at once, can sing till your heart breaks and then stub a cigarette out on its shards.

On the outside, they appear to be tough and perhaps even a little hard around the edges but inside their core melts and runs like a chocolate pudding in an M&S advert. A beautiful effort.

[Originally reviewed for Bearded Magazine]

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