When travelling around the great states of Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania, it becomes apparent that the once dissatisfying approval of Mumford & Sons in 2009 clearly didn't work. It was the year following Fleet Foxes' self-titled debut album, 'the girls' in the class had found 'the' band. My face dropped as one talked of originality and authenticity in name and music. However, the indie affiliation Mumford & Sons were craving when they named themselves after small town businesses was flawed by the fact Marcus Mumford isn't 75 years old and his band mates are not his offspring. The masters of deception managed to bypass the growing indie folk movement in the states. As the radio in North-eastern USA plays Mumford & Sons, I can't help but wonder why and how a band of such mediocrity managed to remove the 'America' in Americana. The audience to which Jake Bugg will owe his fortunes are accepting of British folk/country artists. They should accept new kids on the block Treetop Flyers, as they are deserving of the attention that Mumford & Sons have stolen.
The Mountain Moves is the debut album by London-based quintet Treetop Flyers. Instead of messy hair and a bulk amount of affectionate songs, Treetop Flyers sway to the soothing 70s side of soulful folk rock. It's obvious they hold Neil Young in high regard, as heard on the opening track "Things WillChange". The harmonic vocal sits well with the funky rhythm reminiscent of both Young's CSNY days and 70s new wave, Blondie, The Cars, and of course Elvis Costello. Treetop Flyers have many influences from a broad range of genres. They've taken structural and vocal influence from the aforementioned Young, meanwhile aspects of Fleetwood Mac can be heard, especially on second track "Houses Are Burning".
It takes a while for Treetop Flyers to come in to their own. Having a big part of your setup focussed on influences can dampen just about everything connected with your band, so it's important Treetop Flyers show that imaginative side. They do, and they do it with style on the third and fourth tracks "Waiting On You" and "Rose In The Yard". The latter being the better of the two with its seduction and late night listening appeal. We have a band with two sides, the summer listening / winter listening, the day listening / night listening. Treetop Flyers ticks all the boxes, including vocalist Reid Morrison's croaky angelic voice, a British Robin Pecknold.
"She's Gotta Run" offers a slice of excitement in an album filled with hidden gems. It acts as a warm-up to the fantastic "Haunted House". It's the track that defines The Mountain Moves, the track that makes Treetop Flyers sound like a folk rock version of Coldplay. They live up to their name on "Haunted House", exercising a full blown band in typical Stephen Stills style. The band owes their name to the Stills track of the same name, from his 1991 album Stills Alone. That sense of Americana can be felt throughout The Mountain Moves. Not one point on The Mountain Moves does Treetop Flyers sound like a British outfit. The British traditional folk music isn't present on this album; it's all about the west.
And so as The Mountain Moves progresses, as does the music. Structures differ from the opening 'pop' styled tracks, or the singles as you would say. Tracks like "Storm Will Pass" evoke the raw imagery in the lyrics; meanwhile the instrumentation takes on a general rock aesthetic with launching Springsteen-esque electric guitars and a thumping drum pattern. This is followed by album closer "Is It All Worth It", Sam Beer asks what would seem to be a simple question: "Is it all worth it in the end?" to which Morrison adds: "Circus full of fun that can never be undone." It's intended to be a retorical question, however towards the end of the track, the quartet of vocalsts sing loud: "trust is love," seemingly being the answer. This track takes on a Simon & Garfunkel acoustic style with harmonic vocals at eclipsing moments.
It's not all doom and gloom on The Mountain Moves, though it does seem that way. Each member puts their heart and soul into their individual corner. There's soul, and it's not some light easy passing soul. They work together as a team, just like their formation. Tracks like "Postcard" give the listener a happier trip and a coming together of soul and rock. This sound has been produced by Noah Georgeson, the man behind Joanna Newsom's debut album The Milk-Eyed Mender and several Devendra Banhart releases. He's been a pivotal asset to the band's debut album, something they shouldn't forget when mixing with the stars across the pond - that's if the quintet intend to stay in Britain. A band with this much potential in the American market can relocate easily; they already have an American drummer (who actually relocated to Britain not too long ago.)
Mumford & Sons struck out with their debut album Sigh No More in 2009, there was no coming back. They already had their direction written in the pages of Rolling Stone, so their follow-up continued to pave a clear route to Justin Bieber level fame. Fortunately for Treetop Flyers, they're already on the other hand, and the upper hand. Instead of divulging into pitiful indie folk with a focus on that word at the front, the quintet arrange an 11 track album full of rock, pop and folk with a bit of soul on the side. The Mountain Moves is very Neil Young-esque, but not the early Harvest / After The Gold Rush period, the late 70s American Stars 'n Bars "Like A Hurricane" period. Treetop Flyers are on a mission, they're going right to the top of the Americana ladder.