Plant the Trees Closer Together

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Plant the Trees Closer Together is for those who have a lingering affection for the South Florida pop scene, dating back to the days of the Holy Terrors (who, locals must be proud to note, eventually contributed the drummer to Interpol), Snatch the Pebble, and others who put out records on a label run by a super-cool dude named Rat Bastard. It remains one of the most distinctly D.I.Y. places in all of America. Not only is the Miami-to-West Palm corridor real hot and boring (if you're young and live there), so full of poverty and drugs and guns on the one hand, and glitz and tourists on another, and old people on every other, but because of the extreme peninsula, very few underground touring bands ever make it past Tallahassee and Jacksonville. It's totally in that spirit, that Humbert is the best band from those parts since Eat over 25 years ago, and maybe ever! Songs such as "Stolen Car," "Taste the Water," and "Warped Tape" are bulky sounding, joyous, hammering-clamorous power pop with sunny melodies that clash with the ornery, fast guitars, distorted bass à la Stranglers and Big Black, and a drummer who wouldn't quit if you broke the skin on his bass. Humbert bring back good memories of D.C. bands such as High Back Chairs, 3, and most of all, the Ropers, as well as really early (Smile-era) Ride, with the catchy vocal harmonies by Rimsky Pons, Tony Landa, and Ferny Coipel, and the intelligent tunes such as "You're the One." They're not afraid to throw in snatches of gorgeous, Beach Boys-like chamber piano pop, either, just to keep from being pegged too easily, as the conclusion of that song and the start of the following, the organ-sunny "The Ladybug and the Beetle" attests. And lyrics such as "You're burned out/And all the things you ever wanted/Always seem just to fizzle out" don't hurt any, either. And is that a Greek/belly dance/Jewish tune you hear, complete with finger cymbals? ("Vuscalli (The Porcupine)") These guys are zany, and they do it all. It is a record to love. I bet you if these guys were from D.C., Seattle, Chicago, or -- heavens to Betsy -- from New York, they'd be the toast of any scene.

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