I-Tunes review: the tree's "Tip of the Iceberg"


I’m a former Chicagoan, so I know about these guys in the Tree – Andrew Robb, Sam Bradshaw, Mark Fornek, and I’m familiar with their past musical lives. I hate drawing comparisons between one kind of music with another, particularly when discussing a band as original as the Tree. But, the fact is, Mr. Robb has always been on the cutting edge, and my ears tell me someone close to Beck and/or Iron and Wine must have been hip to his solo work (particularly the pioneering “As If,” release). Why? Because years after Robb was releasing his first solo records, I began hearing shreds of his work (offset tunings, polyrhythms, layered vocals, driving moodiness) in those bands and others. So, I want to testify, to let you know how far ahead of the pack Andrew & The Tree really are. (Similarly, messrs. Bradshaw and Fornek have been parts of Chicago’s finest rhythm sections, separately, and together, for some time now).

But, what impresses me about this cd and the Tree in general, is the way this trio draw on past musicianship , while turning that experience on edge, twisting it just enough to create a weird and forward-looking post-rock –mix. The sound is crisp and vital throughout, full of surprises and roads less taken, a hallmark of any great band that knows how to play together. The lead-off track kicks things off with a bent-up stax groove, but from there the listener is taken on a wild adventure, full of psychedelic vocals, reggae bass lines, poltical rants and heartfelt pleas for a better world. It’s a dance party with soul and intellect, top to bottom. And, while I just called it post-rock, to refer to the originality within, it’s never post-modern or self-obsessed, in the way that some indie records can be. Instead, it reaches out to welcome the listener while challenging you, speaking to both past and the future. What more can you ask for in good “rock” music? Not much. So, check out this cd and the back catalogue too – you won’t be disappointed!.

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