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Artist: Future of Forestry
Label: Credential Recordings
Time: 12 tracks/60:48

Any band with a name like Future of Forestry will either be embarrassingly pretentious or surprisingly good – fortunately, this San Diego quartet falls into the second category. The music is driven, first of all, by the solid songwriting of frontman Eric Owyoung (lead vocals, guitar and keyboards), who brings an educated ear to the proceedings, having studied conducting at Boston University. Don’t let that fact fool you into thinking that this band doesn’t know how to rock – they play with a strong modern-rock sound that’s college-radio friendly, with just enough edge to it to perk up your ears and move your body, and enough musical and lyrical integrity to engage your mind as well. Concerning the band’s name, which was inspired by a poem by C.S. Lewis (always a good sign), Owyoung says, “It’s not about saving trees but about saving our lives from being taken over by technology …about asking if we’re still able to see beauty,” and there’s some beautiful rock and roll on this debut project.

The band’s musical influences become apparent from track to track (although they never become imitative), as we hear echoes of Bono, Mute Math, Simon and Garfunkle (on the impressive, mostly acoustic ballad, “If You Find Her”), and fellow San Diego rockers, Switchfoot: where some bands change, chameleon-like, from track to track, Future of Forestry has managed to synthesize these influences to produce a good, unified ‘band sound.’  Producer Ken Andrews (Peter Yorn, Failure, Mae) left the sound tight enough to have a good sonic punch to it, but airy enough for the band to add various ambient sounds into the mix – the end result is an interesting, but not over-crowded soundscape.

None of the above would matter if there weren’t solid players to back it up – and this band is made up of a powerful quartet of musicians. Luke Floeter handles the bass lines with a solid, basic approach, Nick Maybury keeps busy on guitar, background vocals and keyboards, and Spencer Kim turns in a powerful, energetic performance on drums that makes me believe he’s been listening to Mute Math’s Darren King. While there are no stand-out solos, the musicianship is solid, and serves the songs, instead of the other-way-around.

The album has a strong opener, in “Open Wide,” which introduces the band’s passionate vocal sound, highlighting Kim’s aggressively-tasty drumming, some powerful guitar chords, and nicely-moving bass work: there’s a sort-of Mute Math meets Switchfoot sound about this song that will make it accessible to many new ears. “All I Want” follows with a taste of what the band can do when it kicks up the energy – a stand-out track. The songs that follow all prove that Future of Forestry is a band that can have a very strong future, and mainstream success. If, at times, they sound a little too much like Mute Math or Switchfoot …well, they certainly have chosen good role models, and I’m sure that their own identity will become stronger with successive recordings.

Twilight is a collection of twelve very good tracks, any number of which could cross-over to mainstream radio, that will grow on you like moss in a rainforest. The band has an appealing sound which should easily get them ‘over’ with fans of groups like Switchfoot. Future of Forestry might just be a hook or two away from becoming the next big group.
*spoiler* -- track 12 ‘ends’ at 4:26, but the CD ends at least 10 minutes later.

By Bert Saraco
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