Tallest Trees
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Tallest Trees

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"Tallest Trees: The Ostrich or the Lark"

Tallest Trees has been called Nashville’s Animal Collective. That’s unfortunate.

The band that became Tallest Trees solidified when beloved Nashville rock group, Tommy and the Whale, started to unravel. Thomas Samuel was the bassist in T&W, and Dabney Morris was the drummer. They both had side projects – Samuel’s Tallest Trees and Morris’ Human Voice (they’re website is www.humantrees.com, FYI) – and joined forces under the TT moniker. They got into Roland SP-505 samplers and probably holed up and listened to a bunch of Animal Collective. Though these speculative details aren’t really important.

The Ostrich or the Lark has all the trademarks of the of-the-moment indie-electronic rock: filtered and warped drum samples, oscillating synths, heavily treated vocals, found-object spoken word loops and folky acoustic guitars. One song (“Alouette!”) even completely lifts that bro-y “whoo” hook from AnCo’s “My Girls.” Samuel’s singing style is more reminiscent of Ben Gibbard than Panda Bear, though, and certain songs on the album (“Our Hands,” especially) completely smack of Gibbard’s Postal Service side project.

Lyrically it’s a lot more varied and dense than other indie fare. Tallest Trees do share something in common with the best of those bands (Yeasayer, for example) in taking a page out of the David Byrne lyric book. There’s a preoccupation with childhood, naivety and family. “Lonely mother can’t contain her son,” Samuels sings in “Learn.”
Halfway through “Learn,” as the song builds, Tallest Trees start to sound a little like those rock bands they got bored with. Melodically, the song is a lot like Nashville indie pop, albeit over a bed of glistening electronics and looping rhythms. It’s a sign that Tallest Trees hasn’t quite developed the sophistication and complexity that’s made Animal Collective so convincing. In the end, there’s still a hint that The Ostrich or the Lark may just be indie rock dressed up in electronics, created by a couple of super-talented dudes. Still, it’s definitely some of the most promising stuff to come out of the Nashville music scene. And, considering the U-turn from Tommy and the Whale, their next record may just be the one to completely nail the sound they’re only starting to reveal here. - American Songwriter


"Tallest Trees — The Ostrich or the Lark"

Score: 89/100

Maybe in “Echo (Part 1)” woods, a lake, bending, swaying, shimmering together. Those give way to a thousand sounds, “Alouette!” is the French lullabye we wish we all had always known, it took this moment for Tallest Trees to give it to us, but then we take a sip and a deep breath and remember that we’re glad we have it at all.

The downbeats hit me hard in “Skinny Little Wrists” but is smoothed with that gentle sleepalong in “Love like Blankets,” a direct but comforting metaphor, and by now we are enraptured/captured in the Tallest Trees method–programmed roll of gentle beats, the high-pitched melody lines and it is downy soft billows and we believe technology will never hurt us.

So “Finally Home” is hollow or distant, as if the first half never existed and does not want us to exist or maybe it is so convincing that we will follow it no matter where, even when it leads us straight behind the curtain and we wave to it, nodding and nodding, knowing and believing the game through its tedious travel, but patience, patience (I’ve got love like blankets).

“Stars” and “All My Fears” even more distant, but more hopeful, more active, as if we are in the circle of ritual and now are becoming members.

What is this club that Nashville’s Tallest Trees invites us into? Why did we deserve such an invitation and such a performance? In other words, who knew this was coming out of Nashville and where can we get more of it? - Deckfight


"This Week's Best Albums: August 17, 2010"

Making an impressive debut on Other Electricities, Nashville duo Tallest Trees is the union of two separate projects — an expansive solo experiment by Thomas Samuel (who began as Tallest Trees) and the looped-cello project of Dabny Morris (dubbed Human Voice).

Together, the two have created their own brand of off-kilter pop, weaving weird effects and echoing vocal harmonies over malleable foundations.

Each element — whether a wash of distorted guitars, a toy piano, or hymn-like singing — combines with the others to create a well-meshed, unique whole. Glitches, found sounds, feedback, and more give The Ostrich or the Lark a warm, welcome feel. It's a beautiful pop debut — one that will make many take notice. - ALARM


"Album review: Tallest Trees - 'The Ostrich Or The Lark'"

Even by skimming the tracklisting of Nashville psych-folk duo Tallest Trees’ debut it’s apparent that this is an album infused with the most chime-tinkling of whimsy. But whimsical doesn’t always have to mean flimsy, and there’s enough to the likes of ‘Love Like Blankets’ and ‘Alouette!’ to suggest that this album could wangle its way into the indie-rock connoisseur’s consciousness. Although those who have an aversion to star-gazey piffle will have their patience firmly tested here, for those of us who don’t mind an incense stick or two, Tallest Trees offer endearingly charming loopy art-pop. - NME


"Tallest Trees Debut Out in August"

"...a perfect cross-genre treat for the last rays of summer." - www.sentimentalistmag.com


"Tallest Trees Will Drop in August"

"Tallest Trees have crafted a debut that jumps out of the speakers with an unclassifiable melange of musical sounds." - www.antimusic.com


"Tallest Trees Video, Learn"

"...attempting to be a Nashville band that's contemporaneous with other bands in the country instead of wearing vests and pretending that the menswear of 1959 has somehow collided with the musical depth of a greeting card." - www.nashvillescene.com


"Critic's Pick"

TALLEST TREES The project of songwriter Thomas Samuel, Tallest Trees don't fit all that neatly into any cubbyhole. Their mess spells out in a shambling, drone-swing that's as melodic as it is odd. The homey lo-fi warmth is reminiscent of early Sparklehorse, and Samuel indulges a similar penchant for shuffling Americana ache. But where Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous is at heart a rocker, Tallest Trees channel the meditative spirit of the Flaming Lips. Samuel's wavering baritone even recalls Lips singer Wayne Coyne at times. But while the music possesses a wide, confident sweep, it isn't particularly grandiose, allowing plenty of light and room for the songs to breathe. Samuel toys with ghostly, elegiac backing vocals, and varies the instrumental focus from acoustic guitar to swooning organ, but in general Tallest Trees are characterized by their elegant simplicity and straightforward grace. —CHRIS PARKER

- Nashville Scene


"The Ostrich Or The Lark"

Sometimes, the albums which make indelible marks on your memory are the slow-growers. Perhaps it's been an eternity, and you still don't know what your opinion is about said albums, but one day -- it just all clicks. And when you finally "get" it, it sticks with you. You begin to wonder why it took you so long to appreciate such a mysteriously captivating record in the first place, and subsequent listens are evidence that the record has staying power.

Tallest Trees' debut album is one of those slow-growers with staying power, due largely in part to its complexity. Carefully plotted intricacies and layers reveal themselves over time, providing a listening experience that builds upon itself.
At a bit over 45 minutes, The Ostrich Or The Lark is a fairly long disc. It begins with "Human Voice (Echo 1)", a track textured by drawn-out keyboards and slightly building background progressions. Choir-like vocals chime in periodically, and the track is a perfect ambient introduction to the joyous fanfare of the subsequent track and album single, "Alouette!". Although "Alouette!" isn't the only potential single on the album, it's easy to see why it was chosen. It encapsulates the energy and playfulness of Tallest Trees in one compact pop-length capsule -- complete with toy pianos and fascinating lyrics, like, "When I was a boy/ I knew which trees were best for climbing/ I'd grab the tallest branch/ And then be frightened to look down." The song feels like a opening call for adventure, and Tallest Trees deliver just that for the duration of the disc.

Using sequences of traditionally cheesy things like handclaps, call-and-response vocals, and canned synthesizer sounds, Tallest Trees manage to present all of these taboo objects in an acceptable light. An exploratory quality is captured in Tallest Trees' music, each track feeling like an aural collage culled from a variety of colorful sources. Every track on this album has its gleaming moments, and at the forefront of it all is the band's application of percussive qualities to just about everything. Not only are drums used to lay down beats, but samples and keyboards are sliced, diced, and syncopated to create complete tracks which revolve heavily around rhythm. The result is almost tribal -- not in any traditional, visually evocative sense, but in a "feel the rhythm in your bones" kind of sense.

With The Ostrich Or The Lark, Tallest Trees have certainly crafted an ethereal disc -- a complete flight of fancy, with very little grounding it. Spirited instrumentation jangling in every direction, upwards- soaring vocals, and lyrics declaring ambiguously meditative things like, "We are just an echo," make the album feel heavily psychedelic both musically and in content matter. And psychedelic pop might have many contributors in this day and age, but Tallest Trees definitely capture the sincere spirit of it. - Redefine Magazine


"PREMIERE: Tallest Trees - Skinny Little Wrists + Alouette!"

Ever hear a song that sounds like a compressed version of your favorite playlist and is bright like the sun, fuzzy like your blankie, and breezy like Friday afternoons? How about two? Below revel in Tallest Trees, a spanking new Nashville duo with a double offering that sounds like the offspring of Animal Collective, YACHT and Yeasayer. More gauzy pysch-pop expected on their debut The Ostrich or the Lark, out August 17 through Other Electricities. - RCRD LBL


"Peace, Goodwill, and Brother/Sisterhood"

Thomas Samuel from Tallest Trees is a connoisseur of melody that blends a Tom Waits sensibility with a pop rock vibe that anyone could dance to. Armed with any instrument nearby, Samuel writes songs that may make you question your job, your life, your loves but will never ask you to question Samuel's true intentions... - RVA Magazine (Richmond, VA)


"August Artist of the Month"

...Despite all their anonymity, they do happen to have a handful of pretty phenomenal tracks available for download on their profile.

Tallest Trees’ varied instrumentation and resonant, introspective vocals are as captivating as they are unpredictable, and the Trees have begun to cultivate quite a following... - The Deli Magazine


Discography

"The Ostrich or The Lark" 8/17/10

Photos

Bio

Tallest Trees convey secrets through intentionally misplaced instruments, clashing harmonies and multidimensional arrangements. Out-of-character elements, yet firmly rooted in art-pop. It's kind of like "listening" to your little brother's coloring book -- lots of colors, most of them outside the lines, and the occasional slightly demented editing to the characters, but, for some reason, all the dogs and birds look normal.