Chon Travis - Life Atop the Trees
Record Label: Drop Anchor! Entertainment
Release Date: June 9, 2009
Street cred is an important thing in certain, if not all, circles of music. For example, in punk music, it can help for one to say he was formerly bandmates with Jade Puget of AFI and even shared the split 7" Dork that was AFI's first recording. That is the exact type of cred a former punk lead singer may need for people to take notice when deciding to venture out in a solo career like Chon Travis has done with Life Atop the Trees. Travis may have made a name for himself fronting past acts Loose Change and then Love Equals Death, but can he do a Frank Turner and spin that career to one of a successul solo artist? Much like UK's Turner, this son of punk is trying to do just that by going more the way of Americana/Rockabilly with his punk roots still in the attitude.
Kicking things off is the opener "95482," showing the hometown love for Ukiah, CA, with lyrics reminiscing of growing up with lines like "Some us were singers and some of us we played guitar and some how a fire inside those old boys went far." The vocal delivery is even similar to Davey Havok's slur. The production on the track is a bit weak, but the song shines through as a good way to start the album. The next track “At War” displays more of Travis’ punk roots, but this is probably the low point of the album. The production again is weak and the song itself is not the best.
The album stumbles on for a bit through descent demo tracks, but nothing that really stands out. Potential is brimming, but it seems to be hiding under the surface. This changes, though; the fifth track “Long Way Back” is very strong in comparison to the songs before it. With a full-band backing and even backing vocals, this track is a jump in the right direction. Travis’ slur continues, but shows he has a better voice than you have guessed, and even the production is crisper. This continues throughout the rest of the album. “We Belong To The Night” sounds like an acoustic anthem with the attention gripping opening line “We are the ones in the shadows, the last of the known soul survivors,” that same line is later accompanied by gang vocals helping this track stand out strongest for me. Choosing to leave out backing instruments only helps this track to show that Chon’s potential is not hiding, but is here and ready. Ending with a good cover of “Authority Song” by John Mellencamp ,Chon leaves me wanting more.
This album should be released as an EP. The nine tracks should be cut down to only three with opener “95482” being the only one of the first four to stay. Once I get passed the demo production quality and subpar tracks, I am very pleased with what is here, but how many people are going to go that far to find the diamonds Travis offers? The potential is here and the future will hopefully show that, but Life Atop the Trees has baggage that needs to be cut loose.
Stand out tracks are “95482”, “Sleepwalkers Paradise”, “We Belong to the Night”, “Authority Song” (cover).