FMF Episode #35 – Trees

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DJ:  Breathe.  Breathe in the air.  You can thank the trees for that.  Happy Arbor Day and welcome to another episode of Feel Me Flow!  If it wasn’t obvious by now, we’re all about those beautiful oxygen producing plants known as trees.  Even though trees produce the oxygen that we breathe and when paired with food and water make up for helping life exist on the planet, there sure aren’t many songs about trees!  Not to fear my dendro-dears, we’ve still managed to rake up a few cuts on the subject.  Its estimated that there are over 3 trillion mature trees on Earth right now.  How ’bout some quick tree facts? World’s tallest: Hyperion, a coastal redwood, 380 feet tall. World’s deepest: a wild fig tree near Ohrigstad, South Africa; it’s roots go 400 feet down. World’s largest: General Sherman, giant sequoia; 52,500 cubic feet. World’s stoutest: Árbol del Tule, a Montezuma cypress; 38 feet around.  World’s oldest: Great Basin bristlecone pine in Eastern California; over 5,000 years old!  No wonder life revolves so greatly around these plants, they’ve been dominating the landscape for the entirety of human existence! Alright, enough wood, let’s get to the rock.

Starting things off will be The Seeds because you typically can’t start a tree without a seed.  Yes, there are exceptions like cones and such.  The Seeds’ self-titled debut was released in 1966 after “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine” and “Pushin’ Too Hard” were put out the previous year.  A major influence on punk rock and garage rock to come, the grittiness of lead vocalist Sky Saxon’s sound mixed with the raw guitars made for a perfect garage sound.  In the 70s, Sky would become a member of the Source Family religious group and record a plethora of music under the name Sky Sunlight Saxon henceforth. From that debut, though, here’s “Pushin’ Too Hard”.

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DJ:  If I knew nothing of garage rock and looked at that last song/artist combo, I’d still be thinking of trees.  Man, Twin Peaks was such a great show!  Anyway, Twin Peaks the band put out a series of singles in 2017 from July through December.  They compiled those singles and released the compilation title Sweet ’17 Singles earlier this year.  From the first released single in that series, we heard the b-side to “Tossing Tears”, “Under The Pines”.

Wolfmother exploded onto the rock scene back in 2006 with the release of an incredible self-titled debut.  Originally released in 2005 in Australia, the album saw worldwide release the following year.  “Woman”, the fourth single released from the album, won the award for Best Hard Rock Performance at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in 2007.  What a debut!  One of the first songs you write wins a Grammy?!  Nice work, guys!

Speaking of fourth singles, things got weird (as they usually do) with a b-side from Jack White.  Jack released the Little Willie John cover “I’m Shakin'” as the fourth single from his debut solo album Blunderbuss in 2012.  The b-side, “Blues On Two Trees”, features Jack doing some sort of…rap?  Nonetheless, it’s got that weird groovy-bluesy-garagey mood that we like about his music.  Did we mention that the first single released from that album, “Forever At 21”, was released via hot air balloon?

Bobby and The Band played us “Apple Suckling Tree” from those bootleg recordings everyone was so up in arms over known as The Basement Tapes.  Bob, Levon, Rick, Richard, Robbie, and Garth all retreated to Big Pink in upstate New York to escape the craziness of the world and heal after Bob’s motorcycle accident.  The demos recorded in that house’s basement were bootlegged for over 5 years before being officially released.

Up next we have Wavves complaining about what its like when there aren’t trees around.  From the band’s most recent album You’re Welcome, here’s “No Shade”.

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DJ:  We just can’t seem to get enough of that guy, eh? From what may be the best garage-blues rock album released this century, we heard “Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground” by The White Stripes.

Black Lips took us down to the “Family Tree” with the lead track from their 2011 LP Arabia Mountain.  The band is currently touring Europe in support of their most recent album Satan’s Graffiti Or God’s Art?.  From Black Lips to White Stripes, ahh the game never gets old.

Believe it or not the Black Lips take inspiration from George Jones and other outlaw country artists.  There’s just something uniting about anti-establishment-ism between musicians; whether it be rock, blues, punk, country, rap, or anything in the middle.  You can hear the country swagger in many of their tracks and if I heard correctly I think they’re working on a country album?  We heard “Tall, Tall Trees” from King George, himself.

Nobunny is the stage persona of Tuscon, Arizona musician Justin Champlin.  Wearing a bunny mask onstage and including all kinds of random props and gags, Justin has been playing lo-fi to stages for nearly two decades.  His second release, Raw Romance, was exclusive to cassette before Burger Records picked it up for a wax pressing.  We took “Apple Tree” from that release.

Next up is a band who was destined for punk rock.  Forming in Oakland as Emily’s Army, SWMRS would evolve into the pop-punk powerhouse they are now with the help of drummer Joey Armstrong’s father; Billie Joe Armstrong.  Billie Joe would produce the band’s first two albums when they were still called Emily’s Army before they renamed themselves SWMRS.  For their SWMRS debut, they would recruit FIDLAR singer Zac Carper to produce.  Let’s get to it, here’s “Palm Trees” from the next generation of punkers, SWMRS.

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DJ:  Yeaaaahh that crunch is good.  Fat Possum Records has an affinity for that bluesy crunch which is more than likely why they signed Bass Drum Of Death back in 2011.  From the band’s debut LP we heard “Leaves”

The Idle Race was Jeff Lynne’s first real band.  He sang lead and produced their sophomore LP before leaving to join The Move, whom we’ll hear from later.  Jeff recorded two LPs with The Move before splitting that band up to form Electric Light Orchestra.  You really can tell how much Jeff likes bringing in orchestral instruments to rock songs right from his early works.  “Sitting In My Tree”, from Jeff and the rest played before BDOD.

King Khan has been pushing out material for over twenty years now, spanning multiple bands and solo stints within.  For the soundtrack to 2016 indie movie The Invaders, Khan released a 7″ Single on Military Marijuana Green featuring the single “Never Hold On”.  On the flip side, was this cool soulful jam for us to play, “A Tree Not A Leaf Am I”.

The Hopefuls released their sophomore album in December 2008 after a tumultuous recording schedule.  The band members were so busy that none of them entered the studio at the same time and recorded their parts solo.  They brought power pop back into the scene and along with Motion City Soundtrack made key-tars and Moog synths cool again.  Bass player Erik Applewick would leave to join Tapes n’ Tapes, one of Minneapolis’ finest indie bands to exist before they recorded their second LP Now Playing At The One-Seat Theatre.  “Virgin Wood” played before King Khan.

Did someone say, king?  Down to Australia now for Set 4.  Up next, though, is King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard from Melbourne, Australia.  A smash of a debut, 12 Bar Bruise perfectly blends surf, psych, and garage rock along with other influences.  For the title track, the band laid out four iPhone’s in the studio room and had lead singer Stu Mackenzie sing into one of them.  That’s some real lo-fi hi-fi iPhone action, man!  From that debut, here’s “Sea Of Trees”.

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DJ: We played The Equals’ perhaps best-known hit “Police On My Back” during our Crime And Punishment episode a few weeks ago.  This time we found a single released in ’68 that ended up getting a 90s remix for some stupid reason.  Please avoid that version!  With “Michael & His Slipper Tree” from 1968’s Strike Again, that was Eddy Grant and The Equals.

Our Set 4 Score this week goes to Florida lo-fi outfit The Treetops.  The band just released their sophomore effort All Year Round in March of this year and we’ve been loving it!  Great crunchy lo-fi throughout, but this Set 4 Score track stands apart from the rest.  If you could imagine Roky Erikson & The 13th Floor Elevators combining forces with an early Jethro Tull a la “A Song For Jeffrey”, you might get close to this tune’s vibe.  Check out this Jethro Tull track to see if you agree.  From All Year Round, we heard “Fat Travelin’ Man”.

The Move sans Jeff Lynne played us one of their early cuts off of the 1968 self-titled debut.  The way this song blends with “Fat Travelin’ Man” is on point and even more astounding when you realize they were released 50 years apart!

Speaking of debut albums, Blitzen Trapper chimed in with “Apple Tree” from their 2003 debut.  The album finally received a proper vinyl release with some bonus tracks added ten years after its initial launch on 4/20 2013; Record Store Day.  I love seeing this band live!  My favorite show so far was the Hallowbaloo 2009 in Chinatown, Honolulu, Hawaii.  What a random-ass place to end up seeing one of my favorite bands, but it was wild! Great show, guys!

That’s a track from the Westworld Season 1 Soundtrack playing behind us.  Are you watching the new season?!

Up next is our last real “rockin'” set of the day.  Set 6 is gonna mix things up a bit.  More on that later.  A deep track b-side from Bobby “Blue” Bland starts us off.  After success in the 50s and early 60s money, troubles put Bobby out of a band by 1968.  He cleaned up from drinking and depression and after his label, Duke was bought by ABC/Dunhill, he released His California Album as a comeback.  One of the track’s recorded during that dark period was “Yum Yum Tree”.  I can just hear the sorrow in his voice…

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DJ:  “She’s skinny like the trees…and I’m a New York City slug.”  Love that imagery.  From Porches’ debut album, a collaborative effort with Frankie Cosmos, that was “Skinny Trees”.  Frankie and Porches (aka Aaron Maine) dated while recording the debut Porches album, and Frankie played bass.  Did we mention that Frankie Cosmos is the stage name of Greta Kline? As in, Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates’ daughter Greta.  Wow!

Thee Oh Sees put out 6 albums before titling one with the name “Thee Oh Sees”.  They were previously known as OCS or The Ohsees before the release of 2008’s The Master’s Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In.  The band played Coachella this year as one of the very few rock acts representing the genre.  I guess the kids these days just aren’t into that sweet rock and roll.

Dillinger Four closed down the Triple Rock Social Club last November to a sold-out crowd of teary-eyed punks.  I was one of them.  I spent as much time as I could there those last few days, with the venue being so near and dear to me.  I interviewed bands there for my senior video project in high school!  Oh, how I will miss that place.  We all will.  From D4’s latest effort Gainesville, we heard “Contemplate This On The Tree Of Woe”.

FMF staple Billy Childish and Thee Headcoats sludge up the set with a track from the 2000 LP I Am The Object Of Your Desire.  It was Thee Headcoats’ final album, but Billy Childish wasn’t quite done.  This was something like his 30th release, with more to follow.  What a machine!  We heard “The Same Tree” from that album.

Alright, as promised we are going to mix it up a bit for our final set.  Being an episode on trees, what better than to play some more “acoustic” tracks.  I mean, guitars are made from wood and all that.  We’ll start out with an old track from Cliff Richard before making our way into the woods and down the tree trail.  Cliff’s sophomore album was recorded with The Shadows at Abbey Road in the autumn of 1959.  That time of year when all of the trees shed their leaves for winter.  That is unless it’s an evergreen tree…

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DJ:  If you ever get the opportunity to check out a My Morning Jacket show, please do.  I’ve seen them in theaters, stadiums, and even at Red Rocks, and they always nail a perfect show!  What an experience too!  From what I would claim is my maybe third favorite LP of ALL TIME, we finish our set with “Into The Woods” off of Z.  The band channels harmonic ghosts of Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Beach Boys while soaring to new exploratory mountaintops.

Stephen Stills spent some time in the studio in 1968 after Buffalo Springfield started to fade out and before meeting David Crosby and Graham Nash.  The demos recorded were released 40 years later on Just Roll Tape.  They’re beautifully clear and a few songs would be recorded later in his career, but the raw nature of these recordings gives them a feel all on their own.

Though not a demo, “Trees Get Wheeled Away” didn’t see an official release until 2005’s rarities compilation from Bright Eyes.  I remember seeing them play the song on The Late Show with David Letterman where he held up the CD and LP cover for Lifted or The Story Is In The Soil during the introduction.  He and Paul poke fun at what a “record” is.  What a sign of the times!  Anyway, I went to buy that album and the song they played wasn’t even on it!  It took years of mp3 bootlegs before getting this official studio version, but the wait was worth it!  The metaphor of life being like a play is just too real.

Duluth folk troubadour Charlie Parr brought the mud in with him when he played us “Over The Red Cedar”.  The track comes from his fantastic folk album Stumpjumper and was released as a single in 2015.  Charlie comes from southern Minnesota, Austin to be exact.  I can relate to him on that level, although I’m not personally from the home of SPAM.  Charlie released Dog last year on Red House Records.

If you haven’t already done so today, get out there and plant a tree!  Or at least water one.  Or maybe snuggle up to one and enjoy the company of its shade.  Either way, respect those life givers, we wouldn’t be here without them!  Thanks for joining us and have a wonderful Friday.  See you next time on Feel Me Flow!

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