Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Not all that long ago, a month or two max, the lovely boys in Portland band The Dead Trees sent over a zip file of six of the demos they'd been working on at their home studio, so excited they couldn't contain themselves. One of those six songs was worked out in an early inception here for this session, taped just before their tour mates and buddies Little Joy taped an inspired two-song session - sharing Dead Trees bassist Todd Dahlhoff - and here that song, "D.R.C. 1991," is one that chugs along like a Harley-Davidson rolling into Sturgis, ready to have some beer spilled on its chromed out curves and then find its way back on down the highway. It's a song about knowing where your roots are and having a good idea about how getting back there may be somewhat possible and similarly impossible. It has a southwestern cactus feel to it and it takes on a romantic view of the not too distant past, as if confronting the sentiments that those in a graduating class of high schoolers might do at a 10-year class reunion - questioning those senior superlatives that were voted on by the popular kids. The song feels as if either there needs to be a pot of coffee brewing in the kitchen, full of the strongest brown drink ever, or a stiff, stiff tumbler of booze to put everything into the right kind of context or to silence the context and just exist. Dead Trees songs are slices of thought out Texan hills music, shaped into the kinds of aloof poetry of "Slanted & Enchanted" or "Wowee Zowee," curving into the brand of pseudo Americana that Jeff Tweedy sometimes made and makes. It's rock and roll and it's sweaty and it's steeped in natural tenderness, a kind of bonding or brotherhood with people held dear and with people who can understand that there have always been such simple ways to connect with other people, that the significant concerns of a modern man attached to his smart phone are relatively the exact same as a man working his way along the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s, years before the first transcontinental railroad was put into place to change everything. It's always still about finding someone terrifically warm and charming to spend time with, knowing how to get back to a home-cooked meal not because you have to, but because you want to and being safe from as many of the scary, bad things that get rained down on a regular basis. The Dead Trees have taken an even more rustic line with the new material that's not yet been heard yet, all of which could have been recorded decades ago, as classic as it sounds.