PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Glass Rock: Tall Firs Meet Soft Location

This band makes slow, relaxed music perfect for late nights in smoky bars. If only the songwriting was substantial enough to stick with you after the album stopped playing.

Glass Rock

Tall First Meet Soft Location

Label: Ecstatic Peace!
US Release Date: 2010-01-12
UK Release Date: 2009-11-09
Artist website

Glass Rock is a band named after a song on their debut album, which is named after the two bands that combined to form Glass Rock. The story goes that Brooklyn's Tall Firs, during a radio station appearance, heard a song by the defunct Detroit-based band Soft Location and liked it so much that they got in touch and decided to collaborate. So Tall Firs Meet Soft Location is literally what is happening on this album. Together, the band makes slow, relaxed, slightly jazz-influenced music perfect for late nights in smoky bars. If only the songwriting was substantial enough to stick with you after the record stopped playing, this might have been a great album.

The songs on the album are heavy on mood and atmosphere but sadly not very memorable on an individual basis. After a few spins the listener will probably remember Kathy Leisen's breathy, aching vocals and Dave Mies and Aaron Mullan's dual clean hollow-body electric guitar sound, but not many specifics. Which still leaves Tall Firs Meet Soft Location as a worthy effort and a good album, just not a great one. The slow, bluesy "Glass Rock" starts things off, and it might as well be the band's mission statement. Bassist Matt Kantor lays down a slow R&B groove while drummer Ryan Sawyer floats around that groove with loose snare and cymbal fills. Liesen plays simple chords on her guitar while singing to an ex-lover about shattered expectations. The other two guitarists work in the considerable space left by the other three, playing off each other in deceptively intricate ways. It's all over in just over three minutes. The next song, "Ghost of a Dream", has a slightly darker, even-later-at-night feel, but follows much the same formula.

It's a good formula, though, one that takes full advantage of Liesen's voice. For the first time out, it might be a wise choice for the group not to stray too far from what works best for them stylistically, especially considering the song "Beach and Swimming Pool" at the halfway point of the album. It moves a lot quicker than everything else here, and seems to be building into a great big pop-rock song. But just as the track seems ready to take off after two minutes of effective build-up, it ends at the 2:01 mark. It's almost like the group was apprehensive about really opening up and going for it. After that, it's back to the late nights in smoky bars for the second half of Tall Firs Meet Soft Location.

Glass Rock definitely carves out a sound of their own on this album, which is a big point in their favor. If they choose to continue as a band and this isn't just a one-off project, they could definitely take that sound to interesting places. As it is, though, it's tough to tell a lot of these songs apart. The atmosphere they create is enticing, but the songwriting isn't very distinctive, which keeps Tall Firs Meet Soft Location from being as good as it could have been.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.