Every now and again I hear the forceful assertion that there is no good music made anymore. While at times I can definitely sympathize with this broad generalization, I feel that it negates the responsibility of the listener to sift through the blah in order to find the truly great. What these people typically mean, is that they miss a certain brand or style of a forgone golden age of music. The truth is, great music is all around us, but it often fails to sound like we think. Music is to be felt deeply and to do this one must give of themselves freely, while allowing it to tread on the music of their heyday. LA act Forebear is able to quite magnificently build upon a sound we have heard before and loved while deconstructing and updating it for the new musical climate we currently find ourselves in.
A band made up of touring members of some impressive artists (Feist, Bastille, Keith Urban), their self-titled debut EP blends everything that is currently great about music while trimming any excess and arrogance. Their sound has been described as both “surreal” and “cinematic” and as a great movie, it rolls out with urgency while never ceasing to surprise the listener with sound and lyrics that are worth the steepest of ticket prices. This sound is a testament to both the band’s chemistry as well as famed producer Scott Gordon (Alanis Morissette, Alexi Murdoch, and Ringo Starr). Just as great artists are able to learn from a variety of styles and genres, Forebear is able to stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before and create something that speaks to today with authenticity and relevance.
The cinematic opener “North Korea & the Five Stages of Grief” begins with a viola that adds a melancholy undertone to a fantastic song for anyone who understands the weight of relational conflict. The harmonies here add to their grandiose sound of longing. “Cusp” is what Bush might sound like if they were reborn in 2015. Over a relentless guitar and viola, the song takes its time to unravel through hushed and siren like vocals. The male and female vocal dynamic drives this tune beautifully.
The gem of the EP is without a doubt the gritty “Who Writes Off Who”. The nearly seven minute song brilliantly showcases the progressive sound of a band on the rise. Through raw and violent vocals and a menacing guitar, the band lands on their trademark sound. This could very well be a classic breakup song re-imagined with nods to bands like Muse and Queens of the Stone Age. It is an incendiary track that could combust at any moment.
Forebear creates an art that is worth listening to by even the most skeptical of listeners. Their talent and musical maturity shines through on this imaginative and beautiful release that is sure to find its way on this writer’s best of year end list.
For Fans of: the sound of the future, balanced viola, Muse, sounds of surrealism, haunting harmonies