Treetop Flyers - Treetop Flyers

by Howard Scott Rating:9 Release Date:2018-08-24
Treetop Flyers - Treetop Flyers
Treetop Flyers - Treetop Flyers

Let’s face it: there are a lot of stereotypes in the music world. Bands from the west coast should sound one way, while bands from the northwest should sound another. British bands have trademark sounds depending on whether they are from the north or south of Old Blighty. East coast versus West Coast rap has been an ongoing battle for decades now, and so it goes.

Treetop Flyers takes all of the normal assumptions, folds, spindles and mutilates them and then tosses these biases in the nearest dumpster. Their new eponymously named album, due out August 24th on Loose Music, demonstrates that a London based group of musicians can produce sounds that would be right at home in almost any place in the good old USA. Touches of folk rock, jazz rock, west coast and even bluegrass are in evidence on the new release, and it is all done with a polished. professional touch.

“Fleadrops”, a very tropical feeling instrumental, opens up the effort with a sonic swoosh that then morphs into laid back and pleasing guitar and mellotron riffs. Dominic Brider of The Surfing Magazines makes his lone appearance as drummer on this tune, and his style sets it apart from other grooves. Some nice saxophone work by Geoff Thomas Widdowson is also on full display.

Reid Morrison’s vocals kick in on the second cut, “Sweet Greens and Blues”, which is a rollicking feel-good tune released as the first video from the LP. Morrison’s soulful, almost Sam Cooke-like voice takes you back a bit at first. He doesn’t sound like a white guy from London. Distinctive it is, and it gives Treetop Flyers an unmistakably unique sound.

Sam Beer takes over the vocal duties on “Kooky Clothes” and gives this tune a much different feel than the Morrison voiced recordings. Beer DOES sound British, and the three headed guitar monster of Morrison, Beer and Laurie Sherman combines to present the closest thing to a classic English rock song on the record. Sherman also lays down an outstanding bass track that enhances Rupert Shreeve’s drum work.

That foundation ceases to exist on “Astral Plane” which features Beer and Morrison on dueling mellotrons. With piano added by Beer and guitar work by Morrison and Sherman, the title of the song gives an idea of where it is going. Its otherworldly and spacey sounding with a slight touch of Elton John’s early work that was arranged by the late, great Paul Buckmaster.

From the depths of space we snap back to the west coast with “Warning Bell”. The electronics take a back seat to good old bass, drums and guitar work highlighted again by Widdowson on sax and Lora Linhares-Marx adding background vocals for a contrasting sound.

The Magnum Opus on the release is an eight and half minute exercise entitled “Art of Deception”. Here we launch yet again into a completely different style reminiscent of jazz rock such as the fertile “Aja” period of Steely Dan. Treetop Flyers puts their musical chops out there for all to see on this anthem, and an impressive display it is. Once again, Morrison, Beer and Sherman do epic guitar work and Shreeve keeps the beat. Widowwson really lets loose with the saxophone charts and background vocals by Ned Crowther give the harmonies a sharper feel. Many songs over eight minutes can feel a bit overindulgent by the artist. This one doesn’t. I was actually sorry when it ended, and consider it the most impressive track on the entire work.

On “I knew I’d Find You”, the group doesn’t just switch gears, they  slam it in reverse without use of brake or clutch and make the listener marvel at the versatility of the artists. This ditty consists of Morrison, Beer and Sherman breaking out the acoustic guitars and harmonizing on a pleasing folk tune that would make Crosby,Stills and Nash (Without Young!) proud. Its a stunning departure from the previous song, or most of the rest of the disc.

“Door 14” closes out the record as a short Sam Beer tour-de-force instrumental that basically waves farewell to the listener.

So “Treetop Flyers” manages to span the musical geographic spectrum from Old London Town to Laurel Canyon, with a touch of Nashville and New Orleans thrown in for good measure. Since being tabbed as the darlings of the Glastonbury Festival in 2011, the road to success has been slow but deliberate for Treetop Flyers. The pace of that appreciation should pick up considerably with the new recording. There is something here for almost everyone to like, regardless of your musical (or geographic) tastes.

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