Grace Notes: Carlos Forster, Teen Daze
Grace Notes is a weekly exploration by Jason Morehead of signs of common grace in the music world. We hope to alert you to wonderful music, some of which will be spiritual in nature but all of which will be unique and worthy of your attention. Each week we will share brief reviews of albums worthy of your attention and maybe a video or two.
Once upon a time, there was a band called For Stars. They released several albums in the late ’90s and early ’00s, and their absolute must-hears if you’re a fan of pristine, dreamy, Beach Boys-inspired pop music. The band’s secret weapons were the vocals and lyrics of frontman Carlos Forster. Forster’s voice was absolutely gorgeous on those records, an effortless, soaring Brian Wilson-esque falsetto croon that brought forth the poignancy and heartache in his lyrics. Jump ahead a decade or so. For Stars is long gone, but Forster has returned with his solo debut, Family Trees, and it’s like those ensuing years never happened. His voice isn’t quite as smooth as it was, the ravages of time and all, but that almost adds to the loveliness. As might be expected from an album produced by M. Ward, Family Trees is a rather mellow, laidback affair. But the album’s strongest moments are its more melancholy, introspective ones. For example, “I Walk I Talk”, which finds Forster, now a therapist, wondering about his ability to truly help his patients, or “Slouching Toward Reality”, which poignantly details the struggle between marital fidelity and the desire for a fresh romance.
While studying philosophy in the Swiss Alps in 2008, the artist known as Teen Daze came across C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet. The book left such a huge impression on him that, when he began recording material for a new release several years later, he discovered that the novel’s themes and aesthetics were appearing in his new songs. And thus was born A Silent Planet, a six-song “adaptation” of the novel. You can listen to the EP’s first song, “Surface”, on his Bandcamp page. As you might expect, the song is suitably cosmic in sound and scope, its spiraling shoegazer-y guitar textures and hypnotic beats existing in that space between Jonas Munk and Animal Collective.