02-09-12

Run, Forest Pooky, run!

Look. I can't listen to everything. I want to, I really want, but I can't. Every once in a while I get a message from someone and they tell me "would you listen to my album?" and I'm like, "of course!" cause I love music and I love to support artists.
I'm pretty sure the reason why Forest Pooky send me his album was because otherwise I probably wouldn't have heard it, and that would've been a shame. Promotion is everything (well, a lot of things) so I'll gladly help out this fine chap by featuring his fine album on my blog. So the reason why I'm reviewing this is because otherwise you probably wouldn't have heard it. Now hear.
Out 14/09/2012!

Forest Pooky - Every Key Hole Has An Eye To Be Seen Through
(Production 386, 2012)
1. Deaf House
2. Walking Around The Block
3. Stones Hardly Move But They Can Always Think About It
4. Heart And Faith
5. The Darkness Comes
6. Side Of The Lane
7. Our Greatest Times Won't Dissappear
8. Broken Hands
9. My Shrink (Has Got A Lot To Deal With)
10. Attack Of The Tooth Picks
11. Soul Dealer
12. Hit And Burn
13. Deaf House (Tambien)

I had a stuffed bear named Pooky once. Actually, I still have it and I still sleep with it. Anyway. The name comes from his previous band, The Pookies. Other than that he has earned some stripes by playing in Sons Of Buddha, Black Zombie Procession, Opium Du Peuple and Annita Babyface And The Tasty Poneys (yes, that band!). So I guess he is to be trusted, music-wise. Let's get into this.
Let me start of by saying I like this album. Let's make that clear. It's a good album. I like it. Okay? Now, we'll go on.
The first track sets a tone of acoustic folk with a pop sensibility, including nice 'ooooh's and the title being set in context. It's more of an intro maybe than an actual song. It gets reprised as a full-blown song at the end, and I guess I like the reprise better but the first one fits better to the album. Which probably was the intention. Good job on that, Forest! He kicks it up a notch for the rest of the album. As said, he played in punk rock bands of all kinds so going solo, there's obviously that note of punk present. Walking Around The Block builds itself nicely and features and upbeat and fun guitar, backed by drums that come in later in the song. And maybe keyboards? I think I hear keyboard, but I could be wrong cause I'm not good at that. Most tracks of the album have this fun, uplifting quality that's typical for punk rock but transposed to folk instrumentation and songwriting. My Shrink (Has Got A Lot To Deal With), for example, sounds to me like it could be a Bowling For Soup song.  Which is a good thing, of course, I love Bowling For Soup. It's probably one of my favourite songs on the album. Same thing with Side Of The Lane, it's just a really catchy song, you can't help singing along, you nod your head immediately and it's easily recognizable. That's the kind of musical punk rock ideas that strike me, and that's what I mainly love about the album. Of course, the advantage of such folk/punk rock artists (see Chuck Ragan, Tom Gabel, Frank Turner, ...) is that they keep me interested because of their background but they also introduce me to quieter folk music, which I really dig sometimes. Forest Pooky does the same thing. He mixes and matches soft guitar picking and heavy strumming into this nice little album here (a good example of that is Our Greatest Times Won't Dissappear). In Our Greatest Times he sings, "I've heard that sleep is just an exercise for death", which reminds me a lot of the famous Nas lyric "I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death.", which might be coincidence but I think it's awesome and shows intermusicality.
Noteworthy is that Forest is from Washington DC (where I met the President of the United States, again.) so he doesn't have a French accent that, well, French artists have. If I'd compare him to Greg Laraigne (from Genève), I think that would definitely be a distinguishing feature. Their music is kinda similar. It's the same idea. I think Forest experiments more with the songs, though. Most of the time that works, but only for example the song Heart And Faith... nah, that doesn't do it for me. The riff sounds really weird and I don't think it fits anything. But it's sandwiched between Stones Hardly Move... and The Darkness Comes which are both great songs. Especially Stones Hardly Move... is a standout track. The moment Forest breaks out "I'm so close to dying, I'll keep on digging, shoveling stones." is magnificent. Most lyrics seem pretty personal but very pictural. Lots of metaphors, not necessarily mysterious but clever nonetheless. There's anthematic choruses that I can imagine a crowd singing along to with all their hearts (Broken Hands, Walking Around The Block).
After My Shrink the album loses touch a bit, I think. The songs are still pretty good but they stand out less. The melody in Hit And Burn is amazing though, certainly when it combines with the vocal delivery. The album comes full circle with the reprise/tambien version of Deaf House. And I would certainly hit repeat.

Forest Pooky is in the same lane as Greg Laraigne, Mark McCabe, Chuck Ragan and all those punk frontmen gone solo guys. I'd like to see him perform, cause most of the times the songs have a lot more effect in an intimate setting, you know, with the guy singing the songs directly at you. Forest has a great voice and an affinity to make cool folk music. It's an interesting mix of sad and happy, but with an overall  realist vibe. Get into this if you like stuff like this!

I'd also like to applaud myself to have only made two Forest Gump joke.

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