Bio: After a 2006 debut which drew accolades from Rolling Stone, Vice, NME, Q, and Harp amongst others, Tall Firs return with a second dose of songs showcasing a new non-drowsy ... (more)
Bio: After a 2006 debut which drew accolades from Rolling Stone, Vice, NME, Q, and Harp amongst others, Tall Firs return with a second dose of songs showcasing a new non-drowsy formula. First record masterminds Dave Mies and Aaron Mullan have now been joined by drummer Ryan Sawyer as the third full-time Fir, and the results are like a fine cough syrup: A confusing, bittersweet concoction laced with just enough speed to keep you feeling a bit better about the world of sickness closing in around you.
Too Old to Die Young maintains the lugubrious lyrical stylings Firs accolades demand. The band are unafraid to invoke the pocket-orchestra balladry of the first record, tastily accomplished on songs like 'Secrets + Lies' and 'Good Intentions.' But several new strands have entered the gene pool as well, and the outcome is no chimera of crudely assembled influences, but a cohesive new beast.
You try to translate the opening 'So Messed Up' into words and back into music. You'd end up with the ghost of Townes Van Zandt voiced by a David Byrne/Neil Young Frankenstein in pirate bespanglement backed by Echo and the Bunneymen starring Television on guitar and Rashid Aronoff on drums. But with zero tolerance for quirkiness.
From the final chord of that first song the sizzurp hits hard and you realize you're staggering around the streets in jeans and a bra and then stuff starts to get hectic. 'Blue in the Dark' updates the Tall Firs post-apocalyptic love song theme to suggest that we have actually passed through the End Times but it's still OK to love. 'Hairdo' is maybe the first Mullan-penned love song where nobody dies. 'Warriors' offers a convoluted triple analogy involving the movie of the same title and the defense of one's barstool as an inherently anti-war act. Multiple loves and deaths later Holly Miranda (Jealous Girlfriends) joins Mies at the mic for a finale duet of crossed lovers, and 36 minutes after we started, it's all over.
Without clear allusion to influences, Too Old to Die Young inhabits the same ecstatic crisis plane as Creedence, the Band of Gypsies, Stalk-Forrest Group, Celebration, New Order, Muluqen Melese, Kiln House-era Fleetwood Mac, Gamelan Orchestras, Mudhoney, Howlin' Wolf, Love, Blues Control, Interstellar Space, and Paranoid. There's an off-the-cuff epicness going on, but not super heavy handed. More Iron Maiden than Europe.
Like its 16-years in the making predecessor, Too Old to Die Young took time to happen. Certain songs date from 2001, and recording proper started January 2005. Between that time and the album's completion the band criss-crossed North America twice, performed at All Tomorrow's Parties in the UK, opened dates in Europe for Shellac, and did a short headlining tour of England. Regular apparations at Brooklyn and Manhattan hotspots find the band on bills with the aforementioned Celebration, Effi Briest, Dragons of Zynth, The Thurston Moore Groop, Awesome Color.
David Fricke described one Tall Firs live set in his Fricke's Picks column: "A gently uplifting highlight of my...weekend...a psychedelic-folk tangle of spider-leg-guitar arpeggios and hazy, bong-room singalong harmonies. The Guardian (UK) describes a recent live show as possessing 'a muscularity that recalls Neil Young in one of his more ornery moods, or a beefed-up Galaxie 500'. Too Old to Die Young brings this muscularity to the friendly confines of your private listening environment. (less)