Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Listening Post

If you've downloaded a copy of Dead Star Twilight and read it all the way through to the acknowledgements, you probably noticed that I thank a couple of people who play in bands I felt I needed to give a shout-out to.

Among these is a group out of Boston called The Douglas Fir, whose frontman and guitarist is an old friend of mine named Jay Walsh.

Jay and I used to play in a band together during our late teens. We became about as successful as any local band from Miami could at that time -- had a few songs on the radio; played to big audiences consistently; put together a pretty nice fan base; opened for the Chili Peppers, the Smithereens and so on -- before finally calling it quits. While I stayed in South Florida and eventually moved out to L.A., Jay headed for Boston where he put together his own band and continues making music to this day. The Douglas Fir's last album, When This Wears Off, has become a recent favorite of mine, and for the life of me I couldn't begin to put into words exactly why -- which, strangely, is one of the highest compliments I can pay it. The whole record, from start to finish, breathes with melancholic atmosphere. It's moving, late night, Raymond Chandler stuff all the way -- incredibly dramatic without being pretentious or depressing. Plenty of comparisons have been made to early Church material, which isn't surprising since Jay's been a huge Church fan since the day I met him, but I'm usually apt to draw another parallel: I remember Maynard Keenan once saying that A Perfect Circle was the feminine to Tool's masculine -- that they were two sides of the same coin. For whatever reason, The Douglas Fir has always sounded to me like the feminine counterpart to the Afghan Whigs. Both do dark, brooding material, but the Fir lacks the macho bluster and swagger of Dulli and company, and they're better off for it.

I bring all this up because Jay's just posted a new song up on the band's MySpace site -- a stunning version of The Breeders' Safari -- and he's working on a new album right now.

Do yourself a favor and take a listen to The Douglas Fir, and if you like what you hear, you can pick up When This Wears Off on iTunes. They've also got a show coming up in Boston on the 22nd of this month. Those who live in the area should definitely check them out -- and if you do, ask Walsh to tell you the egg story.

(The Douglas Fir on MySpace)

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