Wednesday 3 October 2012

Falling Trees - The Memories That Hold Us Together

Album review by KevW

Indie is a funny old word. Independent labels have existed for decades but the shortened version came to prominence following the DIY explosion of punk, and as a genre its sound was characterised by the low-budget, limited releases of the 1980s which generally signified guitar bands stripped of any pomp, either jangly and ramshackle or noisy and distorted. Then it changed and changed again. Suddenly the dance-hybrid bands such as Happy Mondays were indie. Were Oasis indie? They were on an independent label, but then so were Steps. Blur were described as indie despite being on EMI subsidiary Food Records. What's indie now? People call The Killers indie, yet they're a million miles away from the original sound the word signified. Indie as a description is now essentially devoid of meaning, it's now more a question of ethics. If you want a depiction of the sound that was indie music then surely you need look no further than Falling Trees.

For starters their sound harks back to labels like Postcard Records, Sarah Records and early Creation (this is no doubt helped by having June Bride Andy Fonda manning the desk, not that there's a particularly thick veneer of production to be found here). Ethically this is pure indie too, released on Devon independent label Pastime Records and touching on down to earth subject matter and the lives of ordinary people as opposed to Muse banging on about Supermassive Black Holes. 'The Memories That Hold Us Together' is all about stories and melodies, not pyrotechnics. So guitars are strummed and they jangle, avoiding solos and showmanship, there's occasional organ and keys that are also subdued. They're on to a winner with the basslines that meander wonderfully, akin to the work of Spacemen 3/Spiritualized hero Will Carruthers. You can pick the bands who have influenced this record, even before the sentimental 'Youth Club Disco' begins talking about The Pale Saints and Ride.

It's a sweet song, as is much of this album. 'Things To Look Forward To' is a definite highlight, borrowing its guitar from (very) early Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and introducing us to the soft vocals that hallmark the whole record. Like Belle & Sebastian on those first few albums they plunder, borrow and rearrange sounds from the original bedsit dreamers and make them their own, from C86 to shoegaze to indiepop. It's difficult to criticise any of these songs as they're all delightfully put together and you often find yourself getting lost in the memories they evoke and the twinkling sounds, but unless you have a sweet tooth 'The Memories That Hold Us Together' may be a bit much to take in one go. The sound isn't especially varied although it's always wonderfully realised. Indie shouldn't be a dirty word, however much it's been misused. Two Door Cinema Club aren't indie, Kasabian aren't indie. For a taste of what the word really means and what it stands for, check out 'Falling Trees'; unashamedly indie and proud to be, as well they should.

Falling Trees' website

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