As bands and artists mature, and move forward, they are expected to head for softer pastures, sanding down their sonic edges and sticking to the middle of the road. Forest City & Friends prove to be the definitive exception to this rule with their brand new EP “Sol”, the follow up to their 2020 self-titled debut album. The Maine based rock group, which first came together in late 2016, by way of local rock luminaries Pete Giordano (Twisted Roots, Heart Shaped Rock) and Chris Muccino (Endless Interstate, Liquid Daydream), with the addition of Greg Goodwin (Mercy, Akela Moon) has simply been growing more solid and audacious musically. The also boldly extended the collective to an 8-piece, by adding local music vets Paul Gauer (drums), Sheridan (vocals), Bill Bourassa (guitars), Tom Archer (saxophone/flute) and Tim Myers (percussion).
A power unit that boasts several legitimate master artisans, Forest City & Friends find the sweet spots between compromise, balance and experimentation, factoring in each member’s duties and creative inputs. It is within that push and pull, that the creatively supercharged “Sol” proves itself a fascinating entry into the band’s canon. On top of this already formidable collection of characteristics, Forest City & Friends are nothing if not persistent in the meticulousness of their sonic endeavors.
The new record, like the debut, was produced, recorded and mixed by Anthony Gatti (along with the band) at his studio The Bulkhead in Scarborough and then mastered at the world famous Gateway Mastering in Portland by Grammy Award winning engineer Adam Ayan (additional recording was done at Muccino’s Evergreen Studio in Bath). Popular Swedish illustrator Leo Lyxxx, who created the striking cover design for the first album, was called back, to do the cover for “Sol”, completing the all-round technical and artistic excellence present in the project.
If you want powerhouse playing, well, its available right from the opening track, “Animal Crackers”. Vocalist Pete Giordano has his signature grit and breathy punctuations down to a tee, with lyrics that tease, intrigue and skirt around specificity, creating an aura of mystique as per. Serpentine riffs and rhythms duel and whip up a sense of energy, alongside offsetting atmospheric passages of lush orchestrations. “My Bird” completely flips the sonic template with a soft Americana-styled intro, before steadily building into a rich wave of melodic sound.
The sonic sum total of “Unstoppable Gun” reinforces the fact that Forest City & Friends operate in their own musical realm. It’s a sound, it’s a feeling, and it’s something entirely theirs. It’s where crunchy psychedelic rock meets resonant horns and soaring harmonies. A crisp, rolling bassline-groove powers the whole thing. It’s emotive, momentum-pushing, and fully satisfying. Here, Forest City & Friends once again show how they have mastered the art of packing artsy tangents, which fit like a set of Chinese boxes, into their songs.
The best is naturally left for last, and the closing track, “Seasons-Sol”, highlights why Forest City & Friends’ bread and butter still comes from incorporating no-nonsense chugging into immersive and ever expanding sonic adventures. It also gives the band a lot more freedom to buck conventional song structures without forsaking memorable motifs. It’s frankly astounding how Forest City & Friends keep finding their footing over multiple switching progressions. Weaving a mesmerizing atmosphere, every member has a hand in making the song’s distinct subdivisions hit the way it does.
Lyricist Pete Giordano shared his thoughts on how the new material differed from the debut album: “The new tracks are not as bluesy/jammy and there are elements of funk, acoustic Americana and psychedelic stylings mixed throughout. The lyrics are a little less introspective, with references to menacing birds and a robot old west lawman sprinkled in with other inspired storytelling. The title track was inspired by creation/destruction myths, like how the Hindu texts encoded sacred numbers within the Rigveda. It also inspired by the “Five Suns” myth of the Aztecs and the cycles of destruction that lead to the next cycle, except I changed the destiny of the fifth and final sun in my re- telling.”
The EP “Sol” makes its presence known and lays on thick from start to finish. It will feel like a record you instinctively know because of its accessible waypoints, but the real musical and lyrical manifestations will reveal themselves fully over time, as you keep hitting that replay button. This EP certifies beyond doubt that Forest City & Friends now officially exist in a league of their own.
The physical CD is available exclusively at all Bull Moose stores throughout Maine and NH, with online fulfilment through www.bullmoose.com, while the digital version is available on all of the popular streaming sites like Amazon, Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify and many others.