Think Tree: “Rattlesnake”
I lived in and directly around Boston from the late ’80s through the late 1990s, and in my mind, that was pretty darn near the peak of the Boston music scene (tack on a few years prior to that period as well). During that time, there were a seemingly endless number of great bands doing their thing: the Lemonheads, the Lyres, the Blake Babies/Juliana Hatfield, the Pixies, the Gigolo Aunts, the Cavedogs, Morphine, Tribe, Sebadoh, Aimee Mann, Jen Trynin, Letters to Cleo, Jules Verdone, Dinosaur Jr., the Barnies, the Story, Dinosaur Jr. . . . the list goes on (feel free to remind me of any that I missed).
One of the bands that was quite popular in Boston for a time, but which I don’t think really got particularly well known anywhere else, was Think Tree. Fronted by eccentric showman Peter Moore, they were an eclectic, modern-day art-rock, guitar- and synth-based band, first achieving some popularity thanks to 1989’s great “Hire a Bird” single. What saved them from the pomposity that brings down many an arty rock band was Moore’s self-effacing, often tongue-in-cheek performance. He would often use different voices to take on different personas in their songs — quite the music actor, as it turned out (one of his best was the redneck in “Holy Cow!”).
Listening now to 1992’s Like the Idea, Think Tree’s second (and last) album, admittedly not all of the songs have aged well — but one that still sounds great is “Rattlesnake,” which was the song from the album that you’d hear quite frequently for a while on Boston’s (recently deceased) WFNX. A song about a brief fling in the desert, it’s got a great frenetic rhythm, and Moore’s slightly in-your-face vocals augment the instrumentation perfectly. The song also showcases his imaginative way with a lyric:
We wore the dust as blankets
The tumbleweed as pillows
I said, “The stars are watching.”
She said, “Nope. Armadillos.”
It was one of those songs that captured my attention on first hearing, and although I’ve only recently pulled it back out of my CD collection after quite a long time away, it’s just as good now. I’m certainly curious to know how it sounds to a first-time listener now…