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The Family Tree: The Roots

4.9 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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The Family Tree: The Roots
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Audio CD, October 4, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

After four years milling over the concept and fifteen months recording alone in the tool shed behind his mother's house in Jacksonville Florida, Ben Cooper, AKA Radical Face, is finally ready to release his sophomore album The Family Tree: The Roots out October 4th on Bear Machine. It's the follow-up to his 2007 debut indie triumph Ghost, and the first installment of what will eventually be three stand alone records all tied to the theme of a Family Tree--once again separating himself from all things traditional. Hauntingly beautiful, The Family Tree: The Roots has all the makings of an indie classic. Don t be fooled by Ben s understated voice and the simple beginnings. Each song builds in layers much like the depth of its characters. From soaring tracks like A Pound of Flesh and Severus and Stone, eerily dark pieces like Black Eyes and Kin to warm enlightening gems like Always Gold and Mountains, the songs flow together with mindful artistic clarity, allowing you to fully escape into the album as the stories unravel. Based on a fictitious, sometimes otherworldly family in the 1800 s, Ben limited the songwriting to instruments that would have been accessible in that era--piano, acoustic guitar, a floor tom, and voices--only bringing in additional instruments during tracking when needed. I like storytelling, and wanted that to be the focus. I looked up genealogy charts and studied some American history for a frame of reference, then pulled from personal experiences and put it all together. Such concepts and stories come naturally to Ben, whom before turning to music wrote fiction. He switched to music after a hard drive crash where he lost his two nearly completed novels. Three albums dissecting a family and its descendants from the 19th and 20th centuries might seem outlandish to most, but for an artist whose history involves giving away compete records exclusively in exchange for mailing him anything but money, we can expect no less. One half of the band Electric President and with side projects like Clone, Mothers Basement and Patients, chances are you're already familiar with Ben s music. The Radical Face track Welcome Home has garnered over 5 million Youtube views. It appeared as the soundtrack for the I AM NIKON campaign and in such movies as Humboldt County, The Vicious Kind and the Reel Rock Documentary. Further Radical Face television support has come from shows like Private Practice, Skins, Eddie Izzard and Weeds, as well as support from Current TV who nationally aired a documentary piece on Radical Face in 2008. Most recently Ben has also lent his music to support the It Gets Better Google Chrome Campaign and the Ride 4 Water charity raising funds for clean drinking water in Africa.

Review

Radical Face, whose rapturous folk music is as stirring as it is conceptual. ---Kevin Bronson, BUZZBANDS.LA
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 4, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Bear Machine
  • ASIN: B005J0HOOG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,093 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Update after several weeks: yes, this is the best indie album of the year, and not for a lack of competition. How many unqualified 5/5 star ratings does one really need to get the sense that this is a "must-have"?

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Update after two days with the album: the more I listen to it, the more I like it. It's not esoteric, but this is one of those ones you have to listen through a couple of times to really get inside the music. Listen loud, listen soft, listen on a couple different pairs of headphones. I have a relatively humble pair of Koss over-hear padded studio monitor headphones that is just making all the great detail jump out. VERY good stuff in here.

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If you're a Ben Cooper fan, this is going to be an easy home run. 100%, 5 stars, what have you. It's catchy, sharp, subtle, all with a generous helping of melancholy. I can't say every track blew me away but... MOST of them did! For those new to the Electric President / Radical Face / etc., Ghost might be a little more, how to put it, accessible. Of course, this is hardly a cryptic album. It's the same kind of acoustic electronica, and Ben Cooper's really best-of-breed lyrics. I recall another group just getting "huge" with a sophomore effort; junior and senior publications took a few times through to really get your mind around it. Radiohead. I'm talking about Kid A, OK Computer and Amnesiac, following on the heels of Pablo Honey and The Bends, veering from the more accessible alt rock into the elecrtronica. "The Roots" isn't THAT far off the rails. It's simple, yes, and the lyrics are great. I'd say it might be a little simpler (in a good way) and less haunting than Ghost. And, what can I say? It's great.
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I don't bother writing music reviews often. I'll be honest, I don't buy music albums often, either. I stumbled across Radical Face by accident on YouTube, and was overwhelmed with the awesomeness of the song I found. I listened to a couple others, and decided I had to have the album. I bought it, downloaded it, listened to the entire thing with headphones, and grieved all the years that have passed without my knowing about this group.

Simply fantastic.
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Under the title Radical Face (one of many monikers), the always impressive Ben Cooper has created what is, in my book, the best Indie album of 2011. Following on from his amazing first solo album Ghost in 2006, and equally impressive Touch the Sky EP in 2010, Ben has undertaken the formidable task of self producing and promoting what is the first in an intended series of three albums inspired by his family history.

The Family Tree: The Roots is a captivatingly fluid album that, from start to finish, explores the tender and often painfully dark side of our past and those relationships we hold dear. Musically it is a stunningly layered creation, at times soaring through piano and acoustic guitar flourishes, at others entrancing you with its hypnotic percussion and vocals. This album is a success on so many levels it is difficult to identify them all in such a short review. Whilst compositionally and lyrically it is an amazing album, perhaps its greatest success is that it is, from start to finish, proof that the talent and vision of a single person can be so beautifully expressed within the limited space of a single album.

Whilst there are tracks on the album that rise above the rest, The Family Tree deserves to be enjoyed in its entirety - like a book, from begining to end. It would be difficult to find another album released this year that has restored my faith in the music industry as much as this. Whilst Radical Face is the epitome of the "starving artist", recording in his back yard tool shed; running his own record label; creating his own graphic art; this album stands testament to what visionary and non-commercially motivated artists can achieve. Do yourself a favour...visit his website and show this guy your support.
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Radical Face is a one man band - Ben Cooper writes and composes, sings, plays almost all the instruments, records and produces. The earlier Radical Face CD, Ghosts, is one of my all-time favourites, with innovative writing and instrumentation that is always interesting and sometimes quite captivating.

This CD is the first of three on the theme of a family history. The idea is interesting, but seems to constrain the songs on occasion, giving the album the feel of a musical, with some songs necessary to progress the story rather than include don their merits.

Nevertheless, the lyrics are always creative and thought-provoking, and the music creative soft-rock. Try before you buy, but Radical Face continues to be played in my car more than most of my albums.
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I have been putting off buying this album for a while because call me old fashion, but I like to buy the physical CD, which has been about $14 for a while now. So I broke down and bought this album and "Ghost" from Amazon as mp3's. What drew me to these albums as with probably most people were the songs "Always Gold" and "Welcome Home".

I was excited to get a new collection of acoustic music with great lyrics, which is what I got. However at times I find it hard to understand some of the lyrics because they are blended into the background music. These albums are still a great listen, but if you are like me and like driving vocals at the forefront accompanied by great acoustic music I suggest maybe listening to the previews and only buying the songs you like. Otherwise great album and I will continue listening to give it every opportunity to grow on me.

EDIT: After owning this album for a while it really has grown on me. Once you give it a chance and all the subtleties start to come out of the songs. I find this as a go to album when I need music for relaxing drive or doing work. Highly recommend!
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