Seattle band Forest Ray kicks up some serious dust on “Please Be Nice (to Me),” the second single from their forthcoming full-length, Windf**ker, and Artist Home is damned proud to be premiering it here.
If you want to put a fine enough point on it, Forest Ray’s often rootsy, very handmade sound could be dubbed Americana. But the Seattle band infuses that foundation with trips to the psych-rock well, and some classic pop-song construction. Lead singer/guitarist/principal songwriter Peter Sumic’s terrific, affecting tunes often sound like The Band covering Beatles songs no one knew existed.
With its loping, piano-based melody and layered harmonies, Forest Ray’s terrific first single of 2023, “Hard to Quit (Banjira),” showcased Sumic’s continued way around a late-era Fab Four gone Country hook. The first few chiming, almost Britpop guitar notes that open “Please Be Nice (to Me)” promise more of the same.
Then Nate Louis’s chugging locomotive backbeat shuffles in, and Owen Thayer’s tasty pedal steel guitar stutters away, as Sumic’s drawl comes on like Bob Dylan on a garage-rock diet. Sumic’s songcraft, and Forest Ray’s inestimable tightness, remain reassuringly consistent, but “Please Be Nice (to Me)” is the feistiest, most rip-snorting track they’ve put their name to in a spell.
The chugging drive of the tune’s made even meatier by Sumic’s lyrics, which offer sometimes wryly funny, quintessentially country takes on regret (“Wake up at 9, just to waste all my youth”), the tangled absurdity of relationships (“There’s love at first sight/and there’s what we had”), and what’s either a plea for tolerance or Sumic’s weary impatience with someone’s horse shit. Somewhere in Grand Ol’ Opry Heaven, Buck Owens (another guy who knew how to wed humor with dust-kicking country twang) is surely smiling ear to ear.
“Please Be Nice (to Me)” is now available on Forest Ray’s Bandcamp page. Windf**ker drops at the end of August (precise date TBA).