The Dead Trees, Fort Music

The Dead Trees, Fort Music

After a few listens to Fort Music, you realize the Dead Trees wear their influences on their sleeve. The album sounds as though it was recorded in a basement, but worse still, the band never really comes up with a solid sound of their own. In six songs, they pull the basics from Wilco, Pavement, and a little Replacements. They even use the Beatles line, “She’s so heavy,” at the end of “Head Trauma.” I’m not sure if that’s allowed.

The alt-country tune “Television” goes south when the melodic texture of the guitars are pushed aside for some noisy drum fills. The slide guitar, the best part of the song, is quickly lost in the usual verse-chorus-verse and is never brought back. Moving into “Shelter,” with its carefree whistling and off-kilter vocal melody, the EP quickly runs into Stephen Malkmus territory. Which isn’t a bad thing, until the body of the song seems to fizzle out.

As intriguing as some of the songs to that point sound, nothing really seemed to stick until “Me Too.” Maybe it was the laid-back Tweedy-style guitars that reminded me of how a simple riff can go a long way. It’s at the end of “Second Hand Drugs” and “Head Trauma,” however, where the vocals get more abrasive and lose the touch of sincerity the other songs try to offer. Luckily, we’re left with “My Funny Footnote” to remind us that the Dead Trees have strength when they keep their songs simple and untreated. So let these guys write a few more songs, put out a full album, and tour with their curly-haired fan, Albert Hammond, Jr., then we’ll see what happens.

(My My Hay Hay Records; The Dead Trees --

Review by . Review posted Tuesday, August 26th, 2008. Filed under Reviews.

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