I saw Hearing Trees a few weeks ago at the No Pussyfooting EP release. They made some joke about being “just another white dude rock band,” and I laughed at their joke, even though I am just another white dude writer writing about white dude rock bands.
That being said, Hearing Trees is a cool band. I thoroughly enjoyed their live show. About a week after I saw them live, I received an email from them, asking if I wanted to review their new EP titled Puppets.
Hearing Trees are a band that sounds like they have been around for a long time. That is not to say that they are vastly more polished than other bands, but the sound itself seems to be from another era. Their sound is a mix of Tragically Hip-esque Canadiana, Sonic Youth vibrations, and the angst and malaise of The Smiths. R.E.M. and The Barenaked Ladies also come to mind. They could have existed in any era from the 80s onwards, but somehow they ended up in this one. The band gives off feelings of nostalgia; an older music fan may be transported to their younger days. However, since I am only 21, I am transported nowhere, but to this desk, talking out of my ass about bands I never got to see in their prime. Anyways…
Puppets was recorded “live-off-the-floor”. As the band’s website states, “The unconventional location was chosen as a place to make a quick’n dirty rock’n roll EP with all the rough edges and no studio polish, capturing the band in their energetic live-feel element.”
The first song entitled ‘‘Today’s Sun” begins with the distant chatter of voices. Soon, a heavy reverb-laden guitar enters the track. A light drum beat nudges the listener to attention. The head bobs. “I’ll take, I’ll take,” whine the vocals, not annoyingly so, but with the distant wail of a train muffled through the circumference of a tin can. The song continues in this way, until finally climaxing with the refrain, “It’s never enough how much I feel it/It’s fuckin’ stupid how much I feel it.” Both sad and triumphant. We know what he’s talking about, even though we don’t necessarily know what he’s talking about.
The next track, ‘Puppets’ conjures up that grunge, “fuck the establishment” sentiment, but does so quietly. The guitar is distorted, the drums crack, and the vocals are raw. The lyrics build a sense of disturbed community. “We’re all friends here, all the time, aren’t we?” rings with an obvious irony. “We’re crumbling walls, all the time, aren’t we?” evokes anxiety. “We’re all puppets” screams of insecurity and doubt. This world is hard, agrees the listener. Fuck the puppeteer, we whisper.
The final track on Puppets, “Magnetic Moment” is a little bit louder. The guitar grinds and the drums sound like they’re hurting themselves. The vocals are almost spoken here. “I’ll tell you a secret/You are magnetic” is sung as the guitar tingles toward that black abyss in which we find ourselves continually cascading. To put it simply this song, like the others, is dope.
This EP can be found on the band’s Bandcamp, along with their other releases. Hopefully, they come back to Peterborough sometime soon, but for now, y’all should go check out this fly ass EP.
Editor’s Note: Thank you for profiling so much wonderful local music this year!