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Monday, December 18, 2017

Familiar Tree's "Familiar Trees"

by Caitlin McGuire (writer), Orange County, November 05, 2006

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Let me just say this first off: I’m not really into the whole ambient pop thing. Most bands seem a little amorphous, and the songs come across as nebulous amalgamations of keyboards. Basically, they make me feel a bit confused.

I recently changed my mind. And the band to assist in my change of mind–and heart? Familiar Trees. The self-titled debut EP from Familiar Trees is what you’d expect St. Peter to be listening to on his iPod (because, well jeez, angels should have iPods. Otherwise what’s the appeal of the afterlife?) while waiting around at the Pearly Gates. Celestial and ephemeral, the subtle electronic suggestions added to the otherwise acoustic record, released in October 2005, give the album complexity beyond the realm of the average swoony pop band. Fans of Bjork, Azure Ray and Goldfrapp’s “Felt Mountain” will delight in the absolute splendor of the record.

While there is no concrete lineup of Familiar Trees, Fabiola Sanchez, Ken Negrete, Joel O’Neill and Matthew Miyahara seem the most standardized members of the group. Sanchez supplies the breathy vocals, while O’Neill is responsible for the acoustic guitar, as well as various other instruments. Ken Negrete, who is the founder of Familiar Trees’ label, Time Release Records, produces, engineers and adds percussion to the angelic tracks. Finally, Mihayara supplies the lyrics, that generally have a Zen Buddhist feel and hearken to a time of romanticism: much of the focus is on nature and the power of free will. I almost thought that Ralph Waldo Emerson was responsible for ghost writing the liner notes.

“Familiar Trees” consistently displays the optimism of true melancholy. It opens with “Minutes Pass,” whose light appeal hooks you for the length of the entire album. And how could you not be charmed by any band that plays wineglasses? What’s bound to become an undressmerobot favorite, “Discreet Robots,” features Sanchez crooning “robots,” in an innocently and infinitely hopeful chant. My personal favorite song off the album is “Nameless,” a space-lullaby with an atmospheric aura that matches its extestential lyrics perfectly. Its ethereal and warm, sun-dappled and organic, but most succinctly, quietly beautiful.

It is absolutely clear that the work of Familiar Trees is aural art. To be more precise, Familiar Trees creates resounding masterpieces. I eagerly await their sophomore release, a full-length album entitled “Inner Course” due in early 2007. In the meantime, I’ll have to be satisfied with the EP. Thankfully, the six songs off Familiar Trees’ eponymous album are just enough to leave you pining (excuse the pun) for more.

For more articles by this author, go to undressmerobot.com


About the Writer

Caitlin McGuire is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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