Pacific Ocean Fire
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Pacific Ocean Fire

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PACIFIC OCEAN FIRE
‘Strangers & Deranged Patients’
30th June 2008, Azra Records (AZRA014)

Jon Bennett - vocals/guitar
Ross Voce - electric guitars
David Fellows - bass, trumpet, backing vocals
Andy Bennett - drums

"Pacific Ocean Fire are our unexpected treat sounding a bit like an English Bright Eyes circa Lifted” - Drowned in Sound

“These eleven songs are a beautiful collection of wistful, poetic 2am music, the sort of stuff you probably have to be alone and in a reflective mood to appreciate properly. It’s low-key and often lovelorn, and every song on the album stands up in its own right - there simply isn’t any filler” – Twisted Ear 4.5 / 5

“Like Thin White Rope circa ‘The Ruby Sea’ transplanted to an obscure UK seaside town, this is one of those rare occasions where a record is so strong you’re pretty much spoiled for choice in terms of trying to single our favourites” – Whisperin & Hollerin 9 /10

“If the songs were visual, they’d be a couple waltzing alone under the spattered light of a nicotine-stained mirror ball. They all share a sort of ragged, sentimental glory”
– Americana UK 8/10

“Glorious, luminous, ragged, backporch songs as if they’d been raised under western skies with little more than coyote howls for company” – The Sun 4.5 / 5

“A beautiful record best kept for moonlit summer drives” – Maverick 4 / 5

The band’s name is a bastardisation of a Richard Brautigan poem and a Dennis Wilson album. They’ve been described as the sound of George Jones, Peggy Lee and Dennis Wilson crashing their car into Bright Eyes’ front room. 2007 saw them make appearances at Truck Festival and opening the main stage proceedings for Spiritualized at the Summer Sundae Weekender, whilst also sharing stages with the likes of South San Gabriel, Laura Veirs, Jesse Malin, The Broken Family Band, Damien Jurado, Crooked Fingers, Clem Snide, M. Ward, Two Gallants, Okkervil River, The National and Kristen Hersh’s 50 Foot Wave.

In September 2007, POF released the critically acclaimed ‘From the Station to the Church We are Under the Same Stars’ on Sorted records. The album was played by Huw Stephens and Rob Da Bank on BBC Radio 1, Mark Lamarr on Radio 1 and Gideon Coe on BBC 6 Music, as well as picking up airplay in Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Germany. October 2007 saw the band head out on a full UK tour with Josh T Pearson, former frontman with Lift to Experience. In March this year their first US tour took in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Portland, Arizona and even a midnight show deep in the heart of the Joshua Tree Desert.

The US version of ‘From the Station…’, Strangers & Deranged Patients is released on Azra Records on June 30th complete with extra tracks, new artwork and full lyric booklet.

For more info, see www.sonicbids.com/pacificoceanfire, www.pacificoceanfire.com or www.myspace.com/pacificoceanfire
For UK press: contact Rosie Wilby, Piranha PR rosie@piranha-pr.co.uk (07956 460 372)
For UK booking: contact Nina Jackson, The Day Job nina@thedayjob.com (020 8607 9282)
For US booking/press/management: contact Greg Wood, the Azra Group azrarecords@gmail.com 619/417-6031


- Azra/Piranha PR


With 40 years of American ripoffs of The Beatles and The Stones, it's only fair a few British bands be allowed to emulate The Byrds and The Beach Boys. And in the case of Pacific Ocean Fire, imitation is very flattering. This Leicester, England, foursome must have been soaking in a lot of American music. They absorbed influences from Gram Parsons to Calexico and melded them into a new, original sound.
The group's first full-length to make it stateside is 44 minutes of beautiful, sun-soaked Americana. In fact, the only clue the lads aren't California natives is the "Made in England" label on the back cover.
The disc opens with "Summer Engines," a jangling pop riff about escape and dreams that would make Brian Wilson proud. With tambourines and rolling timpanis, it sounds like a lost track from some lo-fi Pet Sounds sessions. "Come on, come on, let's leave this city. I know a place where the sky's so pretty," sings Jon Bennett. It's an early highlight, but the album has no filler. Other noisy, giddy numbers don't quite match the opener, but have their own catchy, toe-tapping moments.
The slower tracks are beauties, too. "Honky Tonkin' Troubled Times" is a pretty country ballad that would seem tongue-in-cheek if it weren't so earnest. "Leaving Dusty Footprints" is another quiet acoustic ballad with slide guitar and a pretty duet by Anjy Hall. It recalls the 1970's heyday of the country duet. "I've been dreaming the same dream. I'm on a tightrope, seems folks are grabbing at my ankles in the snow," Bennett sings.
The band's upcoming North American tour should be a joy. Not only do we get a chance to see them live, but they get a chance to soak in more American influences.
- Steve Graham
- Hybrid Magazine


Our Rating: 9 out of 10


PACIFIC OCEAN FIRE’S sporadic release schedule of EPS eluded this writer until their recent split 10” EP with Don’s Mobile Barbers, but their contributions to that release suggested we had further roots-related rearguard action from the UK on our hands once again.

Their debut album proper, ‘From The Station To The Church We Are Under The Same Stars’ makes it abundantly clear that this isn’t a flash in the pan either. The album’s enigmatic title appears to derive from the (actually rather prosaic) fact that the sessions took place in a room above a station and inside a church, but it seems POF are hugely inspired by such unlikely surroundings judging by the magnificent results contained within.

An apparently democratic quartet nominally led by singer/ guitarist Jon Bennett, POF are quickly becoming known as purveyors of superb, roots and alt-folk-related pop who have begun to stake their claim by opening for the likes of Jesse Malin, Damien Jurado, 50 Ft Wave and Clem Snide, but some of these auspicious names will have to watch themselves if POF can retain the seam of form they mine here, because ‘From The Station…’ is gripping stuff from end to end.

Precious little here is less than essential. Opener ‘Summer Engines’ gets us underway in style with cut-price Spector-style timpani, lustily-struck guitars and sweet harmonies a la Teenage Fanclub. It’s great, but not wholly representative of what follows, except for maybe tracks like the upbeat, but quixotic ‘When The Preacher Snaps His Fingers’ which is epic in a Love-meet-I-Am-Kloot kinda way with its’ bells, descriptive guitars and rising Mariachi trumpets.

But then, being ‘representative’ of any given sound appears to be pretty low on the POF totem pole, but when the eclecticism is this deliciously enjoyable, you’d be churlish to complain. Songs like ‘Honky Tonkin’ Troubled Times’ and ‘An Arrow For Yr Heart’ may have Bill Callahan-esque titles, but – with its’ superb, spectral slide guitar from Ross Voce and drifting harmonica – the former sounds like Thin White Rope circa ‘The Ruby Sea’ transplanted to an obscure UK seaside town – while ‘An Arrow For Yr Heart’ initially comes on all weird and lo-fi with banjo and acoustic guitar, but gradually morphs into the kind of guitar-wielding meltdown that the Super Furries or The Flaming Lips would condone. Or, as Bennett suggests: “I got a Jimmy Webb LP and an arrow for your heart.” Quite.

Elsewhere, POF keep their options open with devastatingly impressive results. ‘Death On Yr Birthday’ is an unfeasibly sad lilt, with an oblivion-bound Bennett mournfully intoning “Remember me for the sunlight I was/ remember me out in the rain with the dogs/ remember me laughing at this fuckin’ curse/ remember me not my tired body first.” It’s incredibly sad, but the buoyancy of the music acts as your safety net as the tears fall. Just to up the enigma factor even further, the ensuing ‘Yr Name On A Tombstone Blues’ seems to be written from either the point of view of Bennett’s ghost or a Bennett who DIDN’T die and has come back as if from the dead. “I went to the library to see what had become of me/ I read about how I fell out with this heart of mine” he sings before the silvery harmonies and shivering rush of the music kick in.

Brilliantly, the standard is maintained right through to the death, if you pardon the pun. Indeed, comprising the lovelorn gem that is ‘Ten Years Is A Long Time’, the rich, enigmatic ‘Roadsigns’ and the spooked and hypnotic ‘Driving At Night’ (which is simply steeped in loss and murderous intent), the album’s home strait is arguably the album’s strongest tract of all. But then, this is one of those rare occasions where a record is so strong you’re pretty much spoiled for choice in terms of trying to single our favourites.

“There’s a rainbow somewhere, by a hole in the ground/ but the pot of gold is nowhere to be found,” moans Bennett on ‘Driving At Night’. Well, he may have missed out fiscally, but in purely creative terms, Pacific Ocean Fire have masterminded a daring escape, dribbling an Aladdin’s Cave of riches in their wake for us to marvel at. Long may they remain the sharp-eyed, genre-straddling magpies they show themselves to be here.
-Tim Peacock - Whisperin' and Hollerin'


It should be obvious to everyone by now but it bears repeating: ‘Americana’ isn’t a geographical concept any more. It’s a state of mind. The exciting ‘americana’ acts these days are just as likely to come from Gothenburg, Sweden as they are Gothenburg, Nebraska. It should, therefore, surprise no one that Pacific Ocean Fire aren’t just a great americana band from Leicester but a great americana band, full stop. As with Peter Bruntnell and the Broken Family Band, eventually their Englishness will cease to matter and they will be judged on their own terms rather than how well they approximate some mythical American sound.

While reviews of previous POF albums mention a Flaming Lips/Calexico influence, the strongest tracks here have a spare, downbeat quality that brings to mind the scuffed-up poetics of people like Vic Chestnutt, Mark Linkous and, on the gorgeous duet, ‘Leaving Dusty Footprints’ more than a touch of ‘Harvest Moon’ era Neil Young. Anjy Hall’s guest vocals bring out the best in Jon Bennett and, together, they make this track one of the low-key highlights. Like the gentle tug of ‘Death on Yr Birthday’ and the hypnotic sway of ‘Ten Years is a Long Time’, POF take no prisoners when it comes to the bittersweet. As if we need reminding, ‘late at night and first thing in the morning, when everyone is truly alone, nothing less than a song will do’. If the songs were visual, they’d be a couple waltzing alone under the spattered light of a nicotine-stained mirror ball. They all share a sort of ragged, sentimental glory.

Though not as immediately gripping as the slow stuff, POF offer a decent variety of upbeat tracks like the opening ‘Summer Engines’ and the Pernice-ishly charming ‘Lightning Strikes The Plane’. No matter how many times I listen to it, ‘An Arrow For Your Heart’ just feels a touch noisy and out of place but, for the closer, the rambling, jammy ‘Driving at Night’, the band just chuck in everything and it works perfectly. Starting quietly enough, some discordant fuzzy guitar lines snake in and then the vocals get the speaker-phone treatment followed by a Tarantino rush of surf chords wiped out by a lullaby piano and a distant half-intelligible vocal that sounds something like a suicide note. ‘Remember me for the sunlight..and not my tired body burned’. That line made me think immediately of Dennis Wilson and, a heartbeat later, Gram Parsons. Maybe that was the idea. Heavenly.
- POF Americana UK Review


Discography

"Pacific Ocean Fire" (Smokeylung E.P, U.S. 2005)
"From the Station to the Church We are All Under the Same Stars" (Sorted full length, U.K. 2006)
"Strangers and Deranged Patients" (Azra Records full length, U.S. March 2008)
Currently working on new material (4 songs attached)

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Bio

Pacific Ocean Fire was formed in late 2001. Brothers Andy and Jon Bennett began working with Ross Voce' and were joined by David Fellows after seeing them perform as a 3 piece. They had the luxury of David's home studio and a quiet place to work so recording began almost immediately. They released 2 eps in the UK, one of which was picked up by a U.S. label, Smokey Lung in 2005.
POF began working on their full length album in late 2005, working in two locations: in a room over the Leicester train station and in a room in David's home. The lack of a clock and the odd hours they worked (late at night when the trains weren't running) lends a casual lo-fi vibe to the album, "From the Station to the Church We Are Under the Same Stars" which debuted in the UK in 2006 on sorted Records. The reviews were excellent (an example: “what a way to make your debut: these eleven songs are a beautiful collection of wistful, poetic 2am music, the sort of stuff you probably have to be alone and in a reflective mood to appreciate properly. It's low-key and often lovelorn, and every song on the album stands up in its own right…” - Twistedear.com).
Incorporating a few new tunes and a new continent, POF released "Strangers and Deranged Patients" on Azra Records in March 2008. A wild 2 week tour of the U.S. West Coast supported the release.
Taking cues from American songwriters (Jimmy Webb, Gram Parsons, Brian Wilson) and both British and American writers (Richard Brautigan, Charles Bukowski), there's a ragged country feel to the tunes with a definite ear for quality lyrics. Contemporaries run the lines of Tindersticks, Calexico, Thin White Rope.
The boys are currently working on new material and will have 12 to 15 new songs ready for early 2009. 4 of those songs are available for your listening pleasure right here on Sonicbids. We will be at SXSW 2009. Enjoy!