Monday, June 30, 2008

Reviews:: Backyard Tire Fire The Places We Lived

web site :: label

Do you remember when your old friend came back from school in the summer after first year and things were … different. Sure, you still had the memories and the friendship was strong, but he changed and more than anything, you wished you had too.

He seemed bigger than life, even though he never tried to be more than he was. It was more just the books he read, the music he knew, and the things he'd seen and done. These were all things you wished you'd done but never had the chance because you were shackled by the routines of your hometown.

That's kind of what has happened to Backyard Tire Fire with the label switch and release of their new record, The Places We Lived. The band is essentially the same, but they've exposed new sounds and ideas and shaped a record that is completely different from anything we've heard from them before. The foundations are still there, like the brothers in arms sing-along Everybody's Down (even with the bursts of feedback) or How the Hell Did You Get Back Here (which warms my Roadhouse loving heart), but they've grown more than should be possible a few short months since they were offering up a collection of acoustic ditties.

Instead of the more free form jam heavy tracks, the band seems more focused and found comfort in their own skin. They experiment with all their influences, no matter how they might fit into a track and run with idea until it's done, whether it takes three minutes or three seconds. The title track - The Places We Lived - is an uplifting pop song, using harmonies and piano to polish up Anderson's gruff voice, but it still feels nestled in the fields of the Midwest. The drum clacks and scratchy brass they throw in over the muted guitar strums all help lighten the track, and the calming swirling chorus, that avoids any sort of hook or climax, will catch a fan off guard, but the opener is just the tip of the iceberg.

Shoulda' Shut It uses a big bass line, a pop piano line and falsettos and pushes the band into new, unexpected territory. Time With You and Welcome to the Factory are both more standard rockers, but even on those efforts the sound is bigger and bolder. They fill out every open space with nuances and experimentation (like the spacey break down they add to the latter). The rain fall and strings that open up the confessional Rainy Day Don't Go Away might seem simple, but really showcases the growth the band has gone through.

Even the once simple and heart felt writing style Anderson used on prior efforts seem more eloquent this time around. Unlike the unashamed honesty of Tom Petty, a song where he wrote about wanting to be a star, Anderson seems to have found the chops, swagger and consistency that might help him become just that. By the time the final notes of the record unfold over the simple piano line of the aptly titled Home Today your expectations are more than fulfilled. It may take you a few listens to get used to the change, but just like your friend so many years ago, they return home with a new found confidence that makes you take notice and turn slightly green with envy.

Posted at 1:38 PM by ack :: 3 comments

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At 2:34 PM, Anonymous John did sayeth:

Love these guys, can't wait to hear this new record. Wish they would come up to Canada sometime soon.


At 6:52 PM, Anonymous MIA did sayeth:

Can't wait to hear the new album. The tracks on their web site sound pretty sweet


At 5:12 PM, Blogger Bri-blahger did sayeth:

They're great guys too. We shot a three song session with them recently.


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