San Antonio quartet Blowing Trees aim for that sweet spot between the arena-rock grandiosity of U2 and the insular intensity (and harmonic complexity) of Radiohead.
While that might conjure Coldplay in some minds, Blowing Trees are much bigger and more rocking than Chris Martin’s band. They set the bar for themselves pretty high, and on their debut release for the New York-based Glassnote Records, they achieve their objective more often than not.
The album achieves immediate liftoff with the opening “Airplane Fixations,” a majestic track that suggests something off Radiohead’s The Bends, with frontman Chris Maddin floating to the highest reaches of his range and repeatedly driving home the cryptic line: “Don’t go anywhere just yet.”
In David Castell, a longtime staple of the Dallas music scene, Blowing Trees found the perfect producer for this album. Castell is skilled at delivering a spacious, radio-ready, modern-rock sound, but he’s also sensitive to a band’s individual quirks. He has successfully walked that tightrope in the past with Dallas-area bands such as Course of Empire, Funland, and the Burden Brothers (we’ll try to forget about Deep Blue Something), and he does so again here.
Like Castell, Blowing Trees show a capacity to bend to the needs of a song. “California Skies” creates a sense of place with its jangle-pop guitars and billowy SoCal harmonies. Much attention will be focused on the dramatic, apocalyptic “The Day the World Left Me,” but the album’s greatest moment comes with “Running Blind,” an insistent, infectious pop-rocker propelled by drummer Drew Pierce and featuring one of
Maddin’s best melodies.
At nearly an hour long, Blowing Trees could have used a bit of pruning, but it’s a confident, muscular, and emotionally charged opening salvo from one of SA’s best bands.