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Tall Firs

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Album Review

There are two competing drives on display throughout the Tall Firs' debut album, and they're not always well meshed. On the one hand, singing guitarists Aaron Mullan and Dave Mies are disciples of the disciples of John Fahey, favoring hypnotic single-note patterns and blissful drones. On the other hand, Mullan's day job finds him working as Sonic Youth's guitar tech and engineer (Tall Firs was recorded at SY's rehearsal space and released by Thurston Moore's vanity label) and drummer Ryan Sawyer (formerly of an early lineup of At the Drive-In) tends to unleash his inner Steve Shelley around the halfway point of songs like "The Woods," only without Shelley's unerring taste and restraint. So a pattern emerges throughout Tall Firs, where whispered vocals and delicate guitar tones are slowly overwhelmed by waves of feedback and, much more damagingly, lots of over-prominent and not particularly good drumming. When Sawyer dials back several notches to something more akin to the simple Maureen Tucker heartbeat underpinning the reverby "Buddy/Baby," the two key elements of the Tall Firs sound finally lock in, positioning the trio as an attractive midpoint between Galaxie 500 and Flying Saucer Attack. Unfortunately, those moments of neo-psych bliss-out are frustratingly few and far between on Tall Firs.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Playing what they call "underground electric folk," Tall Firs began in 1990, when singer/guitarists Dave Mies and Aaron Mullen were still teenagers in Annapolis, Maryland. The pair taught each other to play guitar by learning Circle Jerks and Sex Pistols songs, but didn't play a gig until 2001. In the interim, Mullen worked with Chris Corsano, helped record other bands as an engineer, and also worked as a guitar tech for Sonic Youth. Mies, meanwhile, played with various bands in Baltimore. When Mies...
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Tall Firs, Tall Firs
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