PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Treetop Flyers: The Mountain Moves

Whether the band intentionally mimics certain records or has just absorbed the music of the period so much is unclear.

Treetop Flyers

The Mountain Moves

Label: Partisam
US Release Date: 2013-06-25
UK Release Date: 2013-04-29

Neil Young used to get really pissed off when people congratulated him on the success of “A Horse With No Name”. Even Young’s own father sent his appreciation. The only problem was, Young never wrote or sang that tune. The song was done by America, but they copied his sound and style so much that only the discerning few could tell the difference. Young resented this. So I wonder how America feels now when its band members hear Treetop Flyers' “Things Will Change". The English band uncannily resembles America, so much so that one could swear one is driving down Ventura Highway, in the summertime, etc. The similarities are eerie.

However, that is just one cut. The mostly acoustic folk rock of Treetop Flyers heavily borrows from a host of '70s American acts, mostly Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. That makes sense as the band took its name from a well-regarded Stephen Stills song. There are also nods and winks to other groups from the period, even Blue Oyster Cult on “Houses are Burning”. Whether the band intentionally mimics certain records or has just absorbed the music of the period so much is unclear.

And in terms of enjoying the record, that really doesn’t matter. If you like that period and style, you will find The Mountain Moves very pleasing. But on a deeper level, invoking the music of the early '70s during the 21st century suggests an affinity between the times. This part of the '70s was a very strange and somewhat dark time. Today is not that much different in terms of the anxiety of modern life. I am not saying Richard Nixon and Barack Obama are parallel beings as much as that contemporary experience feels as fraught to people today as it did back then. I am an old man. I remember.

In this regard, Treetop Flyers are missing… something. Laurie Sherman has the guitar riffs down. Reid Morrison’s vocals, especially on “Rose” and “Haunted House”, eloquently convey human emotions with its combination achingly rich expressiveness. He sings with a tightness in his throat that adds soulfulness to the music. But the songs are not really about anything. Sure, sometimes a line will stick out in an interesting way, and cuts such as “Postcards” and “Waiting for You” have considerable charm, but on the whole Treetop Flyers seem to be more retro than real. The music is decorative more than substantive and feels like pleasant wallpaper for your local coffee shop.

The original song “Treetop Flyer” concerned a pilot and smuggler who took too many chances just for the thrills. Stills does a good job of making the danger attractive. The band that took this name needs to take more chances to be continually stimulating. The songs need to have bite. The playing needs to take chances. The singer needs to reach notes without knowing for sure if he can hit them. They might crash and burn, but that would be a ride worth remembering!


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.