‘The Lonely Forest’ EP is emotive, introspective and rocking

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Artist: The Lonely Forest
Album: The Lonely Forest EP
Hometown: Anacortes, Wash.
Score: 7.0/10
The Lonely Forest, one of the most famous musical exports of Anacortes, Washington not named Karl Blau or Phil Elvrum, has released a new EP, The Lonely Forest EP.  It’s their fourth release, out mid-last month, for about $4 on Amazon.
No strangers to the local music scene, The Lonely Forest have been playing shows since 2006 and have accumulated a following both locally and nationally (in fact, they are in the middle of a fairly extensive national tour right now). For the unfamiliar, they are a pretty straightforward alt/rock/pop group that have the energy and catchiness of early Jimmy Eat World with the earnest emotionalism of Death Cab For Cutie.  This is fitting, given that this EP was put out on Death Cab member Chris Walla’s new label Trans.
Consisting of five songs, two of which are the different versions of the same song, not a lot of new material is presented here – but hey, it’s an EP, so what do you expect, right?
The first song, “Turn Off This Song And Go Outside,” starts the album off on a pretty rocking note, and lyrically, it comes across as a bit of a love song to the Pacific Northwest – a recurring theme throughout the EP.  The song builds beautifully, starting with only singer John Van Deusen’s voice and guitar and building to a full-on rock song just after about a minute.
The second song, “Ramschackle House,” is the quietest song on the album and is quite the departure from the rest of the songs on the EP.  It is a quiet piano-driven ballad, that is remarkably short (less than a minute long, in fact) and fades out into distortion, providing a nice transition to the third song on the album, “Live Here.”
I was actually surprised by how much I liked this version of “Live Here,” which is not to say that it is a bad song.  Rather, the more stripped-down version of it on last year’s Give compilation is the first song that I really liked by this band. Normally, when I first fall for a rougher version of a song, I can rarely stand any polished versions that come later.  In this instance, however, I actually prefer the EP version.  Instead of sounding overly produced, the band actually built out the song in a way that really adds to it.
The fourth song on the album, “Let It Go,” is definitely the biggest-sounding song on the album.  In fact, I can’t think of one good reason it isn’t a radio hit yet (it isn’t a radio hit yet, is it? I don’t really listen to the radio.). It’s catchy, has a great beat, and sounds like it could rock a club or be an arena anthem. For me, this song is the highlight of the album – and it represents the direction that I hope the band continues to head in the future.  I love the quiet, emotive and introspective songs they write, but I was pretty surprised by how much liked this song, because more straightforward rock songs like this aren’t normally my style.
The last song on the EP is an acoustic rendition of the first song on the EP, “Turn Off This Song And Go Outside.” Though including the same song twice on a five-song EP might seem to be a rather cheap move, it’s a different enough version of what is already a very good song that its inclusion on the EP feels warranted.  It’s not the high point of the EP, but I like it.
Overall, this is a solid EP by local-ish guys who have a knack for writing quality and catchy alt/rock/pop songs.  It was good enough to inspire me to check out the rest of their catalogue and look up the next time they would be playing in Seattle – November 11, at Neumos (along with Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, who hold the distinction of being one of the best contributions Missouri has ever made to, well, anything).  I will likely be there, and if you check out this EP, I’m willing to bet that you might be as well.
S Lewis

About S Lewis

Mr. Lewis likes to spend his time in the great outdoors contemplating the greater meaning of things while letting his ears absorb all the great music Seattle has to offer that he can get his hands on.