Forest City & Friends’ “Sol” EP Cover art. Illustration by Leo Lyxxx

Forest City & Friends is a Portland-based rock group with new a EP, “Sol,” out this week, and is celebrating with a show April 22 at Sun Tiki Studio in Portland.

The band formed in 2016 when Pete Giordano (Twisted Roots, Heart Shaped Rock) started writing songs with Chris Muccino (Endless Interstate, Liquid Daydream), and soon after, Greg Goodwin (Mercy, Akela Moon) joined them. Four years later, they released their debut self-titled album with the help of several other local musicians.

“Sol,” their second release, has a ’70s classic rock and late ’60s psychedelic vibe, but also a modern rock one, and after a few spins, I knew I liked it. But on a rainy Friday morning, I closed every tab on my computer, put my headphones on, closed my eyes and listened to all four tracks without interruption, so I could focus my mind and ears on the nuances of each song. Things like backing vocals and horns came into clearer aural focus. Lyrics were not fighting for my attention. The songs seeped in rather than washing over me.

In addition to Giordano (vocals, guitars), Muccino (guitars, banjo, mandolin, synth, keys) and Goodwin (bass, vocals, percussion), the band now includes Paul Gauer (drums), Sheridan (vocals), Bill Bourassa (guitars), Tom Archer (saxophone/flute) and Tim Myers (percussion).

The opening track of “Sol” is called “Animal Crackers,” which makes the analogy that we’re all in a version of “The Matrix.”

“Animal crackers with us in the boxes/Trapped behind cages with laptop computers,” sings Pete Giordano with a muscular yet clear voice that happily brings to mind the late (and spectacularly great) Warren Zevon.


There’s also an enthralling density of bass, drums and electric guitar running through the song and some saxophone for good measure. Sheridan adds another layer with her backing vocals and a few lines that lead with the repeated phrase, “This is just the beginning!”

“My Bird” starts with acoustic guitar and bird chirps. Giordano’s lead vocals and Sheridan’s harmony are sublime. A minute in, drums, bass, percussion and flute come into the song as it picks up momentum. A few vocal effects and a slide guitar are also in the mix and – what’s this? A mandolin? Indeed, it is. “My Bird” is the kind of song that would fit right into a classic rock block of radio songs from the likes of Led Zeppelin and Bad Company. There’s something familiar about it, but it’s also fresh enough to warrant more contemporary airplay.

A funky bass line opens “Unstoppable Gun,” and soon after, some perfectly deployed synth riffs come in. A steady foot-stomping rocker, the track shines with bursts of sax, searing electric guitar and Sheridan’s arrival on lead toward the end. The song is a field guide to well executed song structure.

The more than eight-minute track “Seasons/Sol” closes out the EP with an air of intrigue. Sweeping tales tell of “living like clockwork year in, year out.” The narrator essentially roams the earth as the seasons change. Ancient wisdom is dispensed with lightning bolts of saxophone as Giordano slips into a near trance-like state with rapid-fire lines about disappearing into the Earth to await the fifth sun. It’s a psychedelic trip of a song if ever there was one. Giordano said it was inspired by the creation and destruction of myths.

Forest City & Friends. Photo by Ian Smith

“Sol” was produced, recorded and mixed by Anthony Gatti (with help from Giordano and Muccino) at Gatti’s studio, The Bulkhead, in Scarborough. Grammy Award-winning engineer Adam Ayan mastered the songs at Gateway Mastering in Portland. You’ll find physical copies at Bull Moose locations in Maine and New Hampshire, and it will land on streaming platforms April 12.

Forest City & Friends CD  Release Show with An Overnight Low
8 p.m. April 22. Sun Tiki Studios, 375 Forest Ave., Portland. $10 in advance, $13 day of show, all ages.

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