Thursday, June 30, 2011

List for the Insomniac

June 29, 2011 -- 12:07 A.M.

1. Bells Are Ringing - Darling Parade
2. Goodnight Madison - How Far to Austin
3. Illegitimate - Marion Crane
4. Cut Me Loose - Not Without Grace
5. Never Surrender - WeSurrender
6.Tear It Apart - The Spades
7. Cee4our - American Diary
8. Define Alive - A Faylene Sky
9. Crush Me - Go Periscope
10. Ashley - Disco Curtis

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Message From a City in Trees

One thing that every music journalist dreams of is being the one to find that "next scene" where there is going to be a huge blowup of talent and overflow of musical genius. Many places and music scenes never get to experience the power of such a scene as took place in L.A. during the '80s or in Seattle in the early '90s. Yet it seems that scenes like the one taking place in northern Florida and perhaps even over in Australia around the Perth and Melbourne areas may be the next places to look for bands with that great crossover appeal. Bands like Fit For Rivals and LOVELOUD from the Jacksonville, FL. scene have already made it onto my radar, but I am being introduced everyday to new bands that won't stay secret for long.
From a City in Trees
From a City in Trees is one of these bands under the radar that has managed to stay a well-kept secret up until now. A dynamic mix of talent from Megan McKenzie (lead vocals), Zack Vogel (lead guitar), Andrew Burgess (rhythm guitar), Max Zimmerman (bass), and Justin Berke (drums), the Florida quintet is something altogether new that strikes me on a number of levels (though Vogel has since left the band to pursue other opportunities, his guitar parts on the demo are nonetheless extraordinary and certainly deserve mention). Perhaps one of the things that makes FACIT so powerful from the start is how they underplay their power; there's no assumption, and no over-the-top fluff cluttering up the songs that stand out to make this band something special. FACIT's unassuming presentation is something that listeners can rejoice for, as it does nothing to muddy their direction and get in the way of the music. Yet because of this, I am also able to hear one of my favorite things to listen for in a new artist: the influences. It's the influences that gives the music a good deal of its composure, and on really solid tracks that influences are clear to the listener, even if they are perhaps not the influences the artist intended. In FACIT, I hear influences from K's Choice and The Breeders, but also from Garbage and Candlebox. The range of influential material to me is massive, and from the first few notes of the first track, I'm excited to see what this band has in store.
From a City in Tree's debut release, From a Demo in Ears, consists of a wide range of musical styles, but two tracks stand out on this recording (to be fair, FACIT only has about three tracks posted from the demo, but if there are more, then they must follow these three in structure and vision). "Stupid for You" is a bold mix of alternative and classic rock, balancing halfway in between Garbage and Cream in instrumentation and Letters to Cleo and K's Choice in vocals. Megan McKenzie's breathy vocals saturate the guitar chords laid down by Zack Vogel and Andrew Burgess, and the Clapton-esque blues licks the jump from Vogel's guitar between the verses is something I wouldn't have expected in this song, but I'm glad they're there. As Burgess adds more rhythm on top of Max Zimmerman's powerful bass-lines and Justin Berke's cymbal-heavy chops, the overall feel of the track shoots to a new level as Vogel takes time out to solo and blues it up. The conclusion of this track as a flurry of rhythm and beats beneath a distorted guitar make for a track that is unmistakeable in its power. If nothing else, "Stupid for You" revels in a tone set in experience and experimentation that are a must for any artist looking to do something new.
"Breaking at the Shoreline" is just as much of a great track as its predecessor. If it does turn our that From a Demo in Ears is only a three-track EP, then these songs would be enough to say everything FACIT is trying to say. Between Vogel's guitar licks and McKenzie's off-beat vocals, FACIT's sound is something that sounds fresh to my ears. I am immediately intrigued by "Breaking at the Shoreline" because of its eerie and ominous intro. The guitars are drawn back, and really the only discernible sounds are McKenzie's vocals and Berke's cymbals. The stop-start rhythm of Vogel's and Burgess's guitars is a great asset to the song, and though it's not as front and center as it was in "Stupid for You," Zimmerman's bass provides a good grounding for the notes above it. The almost minimalist quality of this song adds to its dark effect, and the minute that Vogel takes off on his garage-rock-influenced guitar solo, this is some new sort of brew, and the only thought I can process is how easily these musicians seem to meld multiple styles to come out with something all their own.
The best thing I can say about From a City in Trees is that I don't even know half of what they are yet. Tracks like the previous two, and the song that follows, the intriguingly bluesy "Where Do You Want Me," open a whole new door in my head to what kinds of musical mixes can be made; I'm hearing guitar riffs that would fit right at home on a Cream album next to vocals that scream '90s alternative. FACIT's mysterious vibe is something I love, and something that I find encouraging as it means that there's more to come. I'm very curious and excited to see where these guys will be in a few months. By that time, if these songs don't start gaining the college radio play they deserve, I'm gonna play them on my own show. I may anyway, as this sort of guitar-influenced female-fronted indie-rock is something I've been missing for a long while. Yet there's an even more interesting factor at play: the tone of the music is something that I don't even feel I can find a label for. A term I've used before does come to mind, however: romantcore. I love the romantic undertones of the music, and the way they mix so powerfully with the indie-core of the band's sound. Not wholly stripped-down, but not over-the-top, From a City in Trees brings something fresh to my ears, and more than anything, I'm excited to hear their next release. Hopefully, that'll be sometime soon. 

Sounds Like: K's Choice, Garbage, Letters to Cleo, Candlebox, Cream

Key Tracks from From a Demo in Ears: "Stupid for You," "Breaking at the Shoreline," "Where Do You Want Me"

Check out From a City in Trees more at: and

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