Forestlike – forestlike

Being a part of the Great Lakes indie scene the last few decades, it’s pretty hard to avoid the Rutabega. The South Bend stalwarts have been slinging their brand of irresistible slacker rock around the Midwest since the early 2000s, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Owen and Taking Back Sunday while cementing themselves as fixtures of regional festivals and college radio, all while releasing a steady stream of untouchable studio albums that blend winding Built To Spill-esque guitar jams with infectious hooks.

So when Rutabega mastermind Joshua Wayne Hensley announced a new project with longtime friend Jared Myers of Daytime Volume, my ears perked up. The project, Forestlike, sees the pair utilizing nylon guitars and huge harmonies to explore the nuance that might go ignored in their louder projects.

Besides the occasional splash of drum machines, synth strings, and horns, forestlike is a whisper-quiet affair. Hensley’s voice in particular is just barely recognizable as he delivers sweet melodies with a fraction of his usual power. The blend of the two voices is absolutely immaculate, displaying a devout reverence for the old masters like Simon & Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Beach Boys, and other greats. There are some flashes of Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Cat Stevens, but those influences sometimes feel subliminal.

But don’t let my prattling on about the classics make you think this is a nostalgia record. More than anything, it’s a demonstration of just how timeless these simple elements are. The record remains fresh even at its most familiar. While there’s definitely a sensibility born out of the 60s and 70s, it feels much more like more modern acts like Fleet Foxes or Wilco.

On the other hand, the lyrics are often surreal and existential. “Cosmic Danger” offers a stark picture of a world torn apart by an inescapable war. “Sinking Stone” dives into Myers’ fracturing psyche following a health scare. “The Real Things” rejects the trappings of modern technology in favor of campfires and wilderness. “Fighting (Peace Be With You)” is deceptively hopeless, mourning a lost world that we didn’t notice slipping away from us.

In all, forestlike is a deceptively charming record, wrapping up bleak meditations on social grief and spiraling psyches in inviting sounds like a sort of Trojan horse. But unlike the soldiers of Troy, there will be no regrets in inviting this gift into your city walls.

forestlike is out now through Bandcamp.

Follow Forestlike on Instagram.

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