\ Hip Displeasure: Robbers on High Street - <i>Tree City</i>

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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Robbers on High Street - Tree City

New Line

My buddy Diamond Dave LooGAR, the distinguished senator from Redlands, often says, "Amatuers borrow; pros steal." An excellent example of this truism is the first full-length from NYC's appropriately-named Robbers on High Street, Tree City, which would likely be triggering a wave of Klaatuesque rumors had Spoon not recently ended their three-year hiatus by announcing the release date for their new album. Tree City doesn't sound like Spoon, it IS Spoon...only with different members. The song structure, melodies, subject matter and instrumentation are all pure Spoon, and singer Ben Trokan's voice is so identical to Britt Daniel that Trokan could easily prank call Ron Laffitte and get away with it.

At this stage of the game, all music is truly derivative to some extent, so the only bands who should be condemned for theft are those who do so poorly. Tree City is worthy of praise, not condemnation, for such stellar tracks as "Japanese Girls," "Amanda Green," "Dig the Lightning" and "Bring on the Terror," which demonstrate the handclaps, piano, tempo and even lyrics ("Sometimes I need a punch in the face / Sometimes I need a leg in the ass") that were signatures of Daniel and Co.'s earlier work. But Robbers on High Street should be recognized as a band in their own right, and not mere musical mimeographers, because there's also plenty of originality scattered among the small stakes lining the sidewalks of Tree City. Fans of quality music will dig this, even if you've never been previously Spoon-fed.


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