Release Date: Jun 25, 2013
Record label: Partisan
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Country-Rock, Alternative Folk
The distinct guitar parts that embark down their own paths in the opening 15 seconds of the Treetop Flyers’ debut album neatly encapsulate the disparate elements the band joins together. There’s the folkily strummed acoustic, there’s the chiming and reverberating electric, and then there’s the lead, at once dramatic and intricate, carrying just a bit of fuzz. But once “Things Will Change” fully kicks in, with Reid Morrison’s plaintive and nostalgic lead vocals and a rhythm section that grooves deeply, it’s clear that the Treetop Flyers offer much more than by-the-numbers Americana.
It’s taken London-based five-piece Treetop Flyers a while to get round to releasing their first album. They’ve been around since 2009 and won the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition back in 2011. But after listening to The Mountain Moves, it’s clear that the band have been biding their time, honing their sound and polishing their songwriting in order to make a record that fulfils their considerable potential.
The debut album from Treetop Flyers – who named themselves after a Stephen Stills song – effortlessly captures the spirit of late-1960s west coast pop-rock: the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. You'd never guess they were from London; perhaps the Transatlantic feel is partly down to having an American drummer, Tomer Danan, and recording in Malibu with Bert Jansch producer Noah Georgeson. British influences can be heard: there are hints of the Faces' or the Rolling Stones' swagger in Laurie Sherman's classic-rock guitar licks, and sublime opener Things Will Change dips into 1980s winsome indie.
Treetop Flyers came and went in a haze of nostalgic Americana with their 2009 EP To Bury the Past, and then spent the next few years playing shows across the U.K. and the States. It is clear from the outset of the record that the London-based five-piece aren't about to offer anything groundbreaking or original, but their warming brand of late-'60s California-strummed guitars and soulful vocals belies their English roots.
Neil Young used to get really pissed off when people congratulated him on the success of “A Horse With No Name”. Even Young’s own father sent his appreciation. The only problem was, Young never wrote or sang that tune. The song was done by America, but they copied his sound and style so much that only the discerning few could tell the difference.
Brit-folk rockers Treetop Flyers did themselves a solid when they swapped the gray skies of dreary old England for the bright beaches and deep canyons of California to record The Mountain Moves. Their second full-length takes everyone on a nice, long, Laurel Canyon-bound drive across America, starting on an open Malibu highway and eventually winding up all the way in Montana to say hello to John Mayer. The first leg of the trip shows lead singer Reid Morrison and the other four members gassing up the car with the sun-speckled harmonies and good vibrations of The Doobie Brothers and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
There’s something very familiar about Treetop Flyers. Perhaps it’s the undeniable resemblance to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (even their name is taken from the Stephen Stills’ song, widely known for his work with the band). Or even the subtler nods to contemporaries Fleet Foxes, and The Black Keys’ more stripped-back takes. Yet, despite its striking familiarity, their debut marks a somewhat welcome return to the classic side of the folk-rock genre.Its release comes at a time when the current line of folk-rock bands is seeing a surge of success; Mumford & Sons, the aforementioned Fleet Foxes and Noah and the Whale, to name a few.