After a four-year hiatus, Chicago based four-piece Track a Tiger have come back onto the scene with their new album ‘Avenue of the Giants’. Originally starting out back in 2003 as a solo recording project of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jim Vallet, the band grew into a live act after the release of debut album ‘Woke Up Early the Day I Died’ in 2006. Since then there has been three more full-length albums and the band has been featured on a number of MTV shows, film trailers and web commercials.
Track a Tiger are certainly an interesting band, they like to fuse folk sentimentalities and instrumentation with an indie rock edge whilst bringing in the occasional synth loop that all comes together to create an atmospheric indie folk sound. ‘Avenue of the Giants’ carries this experimentation on and proves to be an easy-going and enjoyable listen, and a good comeback album for the band.
RELEASE DATE: 21 April 2015 LABEL: Deep Elm Records
The album starts off strong with the rather interesting track ‘What the Leopards Reject’, deep bass and keys play with each other across a soft drum beat and acoustic guitar before airy almost Beck-like vocals appear on top, it’s a song that shows off the abilities of the band and an example of how they are more than a simple indie-folk group. Upbeat and bouncy ‘One foot in the Ocean’ follows and there is a move from the atmospheric spacier electronic sound into a more classic indie setting, energy is the order of this pacey number and there is also a taste of the lovely vocal harmonies that play out throughout the album between Vallet and the bands other vocalist Erynne Baronia. Later in the album we witness this harmonising in full effect in the song ‘Run for the Cause’, the whole band comes together, mingling and working with each other complimenting everything that the others are doing, it’s an energetic song with spacey vocals and a catchy and memorable chorus. Another song of note is ‘I’ll Follow You to the Sun’, a song that again shows off the strength that the band has working with each other, playing off one another and binding together with clever layers, an area where Track a Tiger shine. The album comes to a close with the calm and restrained track ‘The Indian River’, mixing the folk of banjo, acoustic guitar and what sounds like slide guitar with dreamy vocals from Baronia whilst a synth swirls away almost secretly below it all.
‘Avenue of the Giants’ is a short but sweet album, coming in at only 35 minutes, but this is 35 minutes that prove to be fun, blissful and joyous as the album takes the listener on a journey through ten pleasant and happy tunes. The album never really fixes on a specific genre, with some songs on the indie spectrum, others coming in rather folky and others blending these, and other genres together. ‘Avenue of the Giants’ is more than just a simple indie folk album and the interplay and harmonising between the whole band throughout is the real draw that makes it a good listen. Simply put, Track a Tiger have made a very nice, pleasing album, that sits well throughout the whole listen.
I am interested to see what direction the band will take following this album, I personally would love to hear them experiment with the electronic side that they touch on at times in the album. The opening track for example, ‘What the Leopards Reject’ has a very interesting draw with it combining so many things, synth, bass, keys, acoustic guitars and spacey vocals all come together in a fascinating mix. It was this fusion that got me interested in the album in the first place, drew me in and made me want to listen to the whole album. The rest of the album is by no means a disappointment, it is definitely an interesting listen, but I really do wonder what else the band can do with this more experimental mix of traditional genres whilst utilising more recent emergences in music with more prominence rather than in the background as seems to happen in this album.