26 June 2016

Climbing Trees - Borders // Released 8th July

Climbing Trees have been kicking up a storm in their hometown of Wales. Turning heads wherever they go, including the likes of Huw Stephens (BBC Radio 1), and now they're making quite the name for themselves worldwide too! Amy listens to their forthcoming album Borders.

This band really doesn't mess around and as the first track kicks in with an explosive opening, the warm vocals, complimentary guitar licks, interesting bass lines and groovy drum beats had me hooked on first listen. The catchy chorus feels incredibly wide in sound, inviting a full round of voices to belt "it feels like home!" I can just imagine it now: stadium concert, fans going crazy. Yeah?

So as I was listening to the first couple of tracks on this album I thought "cool, so they're a good indie band". Oh how generic and inappropriate that statement was to describe the incredible journey that this album takes you on. Bare with me and I'll explain!

The second track Lost introduces the gospel-like element in their sound. It's quite subtle, which is clever because later on in the album this is gonna become a big deal. I just love how carefully crafted this album is as a whole. While each track works well on its own, they really come together to create a well rounded experience.

Anyway back to the track. Big vocal harmonies in the lead up to the choruses build up the sound from the stripped back verses, which place emphasis on the fuzzy bass lines. And I'm always a fan of fuzzy bass lines! I like how the piano cuts through between vocal lines as and when it's needed. It's little things like this that complete a song.

Set in Stone comes straight in with a quick "bam bam!" (that's the technical term). Really nice sounding acoustic guitar fills out the space in the background and it sounds proper good - none of that plugged in acoustic crap. (I have somewhat strong feelings towards how well an acoustic guitar is recorded, so good job lads)

Though lyrics sometimes find themselves straying into cliché areas (which crops up across the album) they're super singalongable, granting easy popularity. I look forward to seeing the albums reception following it's release!

But then we have got some really nice lyrical work in the chilled out song Amber, with a lovely guitar line and touching melody on the piano. "There was amber in the dusty earth" I like it. This is a particular stand out track for the album - at least for me anyway.

The next track Caesar opens with a really atmospheric drone. This is already another stand out track and it hasn't even started yet. Then when it all kicks in it gets super intense and super dramatic. This five and a half minute instrumental track features strings, awesome guitar work and earth shattering vocals from the band members. Epic. This is where the album starts to get really good.

Coda is another instrumental that speaks volumes, with beautiful interlocking melodies between the keys and guitar. I love the harmony in the voices as they build up until they start singing that single repeated vocal line that comes in towards the end: "Pick up the pieces and go". This is where that gospel element I mentioned earlier becomes a big centre focus. And I absolutely love it! Also, cool Morse Code effects, that's a nice touch.

I love voices. I love the sound they make when you get a load of passionate singers in one room to just go for it. I love the sound they make in big reverberant halls. These guys harness that in a more controlled and well produced, well crafted manor. And it sounds bloody brilliant. I also like music when people mean it, you know? And these guys mean it. I like it.

The album strips right back for Heading South with a simple combination of vocals and piano. I like the rawness, I like the understated piano playing and the fact that it's very lyrically driven. I also like the subtle strings that fill out the sound and the introduction of harmonies on stand out lines. They really complete the song. And then those big vocals that have become the signature sound for Climbing Trees come in. Drums and guitar build it right up to an epic wide sound. It gets pretty intense. Incredibly moving.

So after that crazy experience, the final track, Borders, fades in with slow drum roles and chilled guitar. As a listener, it's a well deserved relaxing moment. But then there's driving piano and a build up to a full brass and strings sound that just totally completes the album.

It's an incredible ending to a well-formed LP that really takes you places, keeps you on the edge of your seat and yet also somehow feels appropriate for simple, easy listening. These guys have done well to find the right balance here and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

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