First, the sound of rushing wind. Then, strange noises. Are they crickets? Birds? Aliens descending to Earth? No matter – soon enough, there are the sounds of guitars. Gentle and soothing at first, like the music of the spheres, then roaring. Some thunderous bass and drums add to the tumult.
So begins We Must Fall Forever if We Survive (self-released, 2015), the sophomore album by post-rock band Bright Old Giant (formerly Red Hands Black Feet). It’s not just one of the best local albums I’ve ever heard; it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard in the past five or six years, period. And it was made by people you can see working at a nearby bar, brewery, grocery, etc.
Despite this, in the five years that I’ve freelanced for the Boise Weekly, I’ve never written about We Must Fall or Bright Old Giant/RHBF. The reason is simple: I’m such good friends with the band’s four members that the perceived conflict of interest is too great.
Bright Old Giant drummer Matt Stone (seen here with Urban Outfielders). Photo by Kenyon McWilliams
By Fire and Sword guitarist Jeff Young. Photo by Jenny Bowler
I understand the need to preserve journalistic integrity (or, rather, the appearance of it). Still, it’s frustrating. I mean, it’s not as if I wouldn’t give Bright Old Giant a bad review if it were warranted (I have). Besides, I haven’t seen them more than any other local group just because they’re good people. Indeed, I may not have become their friend if I didn’t love their music so much.
In any case, We Must Fall was written with a space travel theme in mind. There’s certainly something spacey in this stately, majestically melancholy music. As Eric Larson and Jake Myers’ guitars, Joseph Myers’ bass, and Matt Stone’s drums ebb and flow, they create a feeling that’s a little hard to describe. It reminds me of those moments in 2001: A Space Odyssey when the monolith pops up – it’s as if something wondrous (and slightly ominous) has suddenly emerged from the void. That feeling is one reason why I started writing about the local music scene in the first place.
You can find Bright Old Giant’s music on Spotify (still under Red Hands Black Feet) and Bandcamp.
Special Preview: By Fire and Sword
Longtime fans of Bright Old Giant will probably know about their association with local alt-rock group The Green Zoo. This side project of Green Zoo frontman Thomas Newby and guitarists Mike Ward and Jeff Young lets them indulge their fondness for Iron Maiden-style heavy metal.
Header photo of Eric Larson of Bright Old Giant performing with Wild Spells, taken by Katherine McBeth.