Future Reference – Legs Like Tree Trunks

Future Reference

Legs Like Tree Trunks



The old adage, “write what you know,” is definitely a helpful piece of advice for any creative person.  It doesn’t just relate to authors and the like, as the Pennsylvania-based outfit Legs Like Tree Trunks shows us.  This four-piece Tech-folk band definitely knows Math-indie rock, they definitely know the influence of Maps & Atlases, and they definitely know nostalgia of halcyon days.  Their new record Future Reference, with these tools at the band’s side, is out to prove its worth in the ever-increasing Indie-rock lexicon.

The band’s “brand folk-tinged math rock” started last year in 2011, formed by its members Matt Holden (on vocals and guitar), Tyler Donaldson (on drums), Dave Shepard (on bass and vocals), and Dave Cerminara (on guitar).  Taking hints from the music of Maps & Atlases and Minus the Bear, this still-developing group already has a powerful, mature sound to them.  Legs Like Tree Trunks uses the techniques from their influences and twists them into absorbing songs, saturated in a familiarized past.

Oh man, I’ve know exactly how these make-shift photo sessions feel.

Opening with “Snowflake” — a song sounding like a lost track from Maps & Atlases latest Beware and Be Grateful — Future Reference starts with intriguing guitar lines, the tapping creating a labyrinth of music for Holden’s reedy vocals to soar over.  The raspiness of his voice creates a consummate unity with the clean guitars, the precise bass, and the refrained percussions.  Take the beautiful “Anchorage,” for example.  It’s slower tempo and refined arrangement create a mixture which calls to mind open car-windows, fingers hovering along the breeze.  The closer “Parked Cars” also has a similar feeling, as the intertwining guitars produce false echoes.  The brevity of the song (the vocals drone on more so than sing actual lyrics) invigorates it; the gradual build-up of instruments conjures a yearning of emotion.  That’s not to say that Legs Like Tree Trunks can’t rock though — listen to the crisp snare drums, the gang vocals, and abrupt outro of guitars on “WADM”  — just that the band really knows how to be evocative with their music.

Which brings us to the lyrics off of this record.  With music that wears glasses complete with rose-tinted lenses (most likely thick-framed and vintage), one shouldn’t be surprised that Legs Like Tree Trunks can wax poetical about youthful driving trips.  The choice of subject matter works effectively for each song, as the listeners can relate easily to the material.  “Hoods Up” adopts that aforementioned “youthful driving trip” with “smoke just trail[ing] out” of open windows and a reference to the Indie supergroup Broken Social Scene (“I know you’ve got Feel Good Lost turned up loud”).  “Anchorage”,  meanwhile, paints an Autumn afternoon as Holden sings, “In the teeth of past judgement/a tree sheds its brown leaves.”  Future Reference finds the romance, the art in these lazy afternoons but still has the boldness to be somewhat obtuse with lines like, “You remember when the sun fell out of the sky,” and “Maybe I’m stuck inside tall tales and pine eyes.”

And so, yes, Legs Like Tree Trunks have released a wonderful record this past September.  It breathes in the fascination of idylls and exhales the excitement of nostalgia.  It’s a coming-together of confident music, which knows how and when to use restraint, and inspired lyrics, which creatively turn well-trodden clichés into sudden quixotic visions.  Perhaps the title, Future Reference, isn’t a look towards the forthcoming, but an invocation to fondly remember the past.

You can support Legs Like Tree Trunks by downloading (Name your own price!) their album off of their Bandcamp, here,  and/or following them on their Facebook, here.


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