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SCHOOLTREE

Crossover Prog • United States


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Schooltree biography
SCHOOLTREE are the brainchild of Boston-based, classically-trained multi-instrumentalist, composer and vaudeville performer Lainey SCHOOLTREE, a well-known figure in the underground arts community of her home town. Formed in 2011, the band - which also comprises Brendan BURNS (guitar), Derek Van VORMER (bass) and Tom COLLINS (drums) - released their debut album, 'RISE', in March 2013. They have performed extensively in the Boston and Providence area, as well as in New York City; in the autumn of 2014 they also participated in the second edition of the New Jersey Proghouse Homecoming Weekend in Dunellen (NJ).

SCHOOLTREE's music embodies the essence of Art Rock, with catchy melodies, sophisticated arrangements, lush instrumentation, and a wide array of influences that - besides classic prog - include opera, Broadway musicals and baroque pop. Lainey's dazzling vocals deliver lyrics that are humorous and thought-provoking at the same time. Highly recommended to fans of KATE BUSH, TORI AMOS, SUPERTRAMP, QUEEN and ROXY MUSIC.

Biography provided by Raff (Raffaella Berry) - November 9, 2014

Schooltree official website

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RiseRise
CD Baby 2016
Audio CD$9.99
Rise by The Unicorn ShackRise by The Unicorn Shack
The Unicorn Shack
Audio CD$32.30

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SCHOOLTREE discography


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SCHOOLTREE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.63 | 8 ratings
My Metal Mother
2011
3.84 | 12 ratings
Rise
2013
3.98 | 65 ratings
Heterotopia
2017

SCHOOLTREE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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SCHOOLTREE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Heterotopia by SCHOOLTREE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.98 | 65 ratings

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Heterotopia
Schooltree Crossover Prog

Review by thesmokingman

5 stars It's no secret many people's favorite musical works don't necessarily grip them on the first listen. Heterotopia by Schooltree is for me, further proof of this concept. It may have been that I was not completely focused, or it may have been that I didn't sit and digest the full 100 minutes of music in one continuous go, but the second through sixth(!) focused listens brought about a musical metanoia.

To say the theme of this album is lofty would be a misnomer, as that term describes height. This particular album is incredibly DEEP both musically and conceptually. Seemingly simple psychological concepts are personified as a cast of characters who interact with Suzie, a lost and depressed but otherwise normal and relatable protagonist who finds herself in a realm that is a twisted physical manifestation of her psyche. Without giving any spoilers, I would invite all who wish to dive down deep to the bottom of The River with Suzie to read along with the published libretto (synopsis and lyrics) as they listen: www.schooltreemusic.com/libretto. Once I did, the story began to really blossom and before long, I was sitting with Wikipedia tabs open to Heterotopia, Metanoia, Enantidromia, Carl Jung, Shadow, Archetype and more as I voraciously soaked up all the knowledge I could in an effort to really embrace all available nuance.

Musically, this album's production values are very live, airy and theatrical. Next to some more slickly and "cleanly" produced modern prog productions this may seem like a detriment, but the result is quite effective for this piece. Every song's tonality paints a well-envisioned sonic landscape that colorfully illustrates the chapters of the story. The band as a whole is very tight and the instrumentation incredibly deliberate. Especially noteworthy are the wide range of keyboard tones and jazz-infused chord progressions that keep the listener's mood in the proper space for each song. Just as wide-ranging is Lainey Schooltree's vocal performance. Whether straight on as Suzi, sublimely ethereal and glitched as the Leitmaiden Metanoia or disturbingly dark and gritty as Enantiodromia, her vision and performance of each character is inspired. The only production detriment of this album is that some of the more vocally effected lyrics are a touch hard to make out, but that in itself is not nearly enough to tarnish the rest of the amazingness.

All stylistic references to Kate Bush are right on the money, but with a much less angular delivery and what seems to be a more dedicated focus on performance value. Without going into too much additional detail that may mischaracterize the music, I would throw in Imogen Heap, Izz, Moth Vellum, Camel, mid-era Genesis, early-era Marillion, and perhaps a touch of No-Man. While the entire album is strong as a stright-through listen (if you can devote the uninterrupted time), the standout songs for one-off listening are are the jazz-funky "Cat Centipede", trippy-spacey "The Abyss", anthemic "Edge of a Dream", achingly haunting "The Leitmaiden", rocking "Specter Lyfe", powerfully dark "The River", and surging "Zombie Connection".

It's been a long time since I've been smitten with an album the way this one has hit me. It's a testament to the fact that some of the best music out today simply can't be found on the radio, and provides further drive in the quest to root out and support the artists who provide us with extraordinary soundtracks to otherwise ordinary lives.

 Heterotopia by SCHOOLTREE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.98 | 65 ratings

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Heterotopia
Schooltree Crossover Prog

Review by Corcoranw687

5 stars This is the best, 5 stars easy! Right from the start of my first listen I knew this was going to rock, the Overture lets you know what to expect, a ton of piano and synth and a feeling that we are hearing familiar sounds in a very modern way. I was reminded of Phideaux, Supertramp, and Kate Bush as the songs continued, but don't be mistaken, this album doesn't sound like any of them overall. There is so much here I couldn't take it all apart, but a few highlights: Edge of a Dream has 2 or 3 different refrains that are stuck in my head all day. How cool is The Leitmaiden with the synth and glitched vocals, and similarly, You and I using the two to create a creepy atmosphere before turning around in the second half. The ending of the latter and Into Tomorrow have me suddenly reminded of Marillion, those 80s synth and overdriven guitar soloing, and again, what a chorus! Power of the Ghost is single-ready but also one of the best songs on the album. This album is my most pleasant surprise of 2017 so far, 99 minutes long and I listen to the whole thing each time. You just have to hear this if you are a fan of concept albums or any of the mentioned bands. I think a talented group of musicians put a lot of effort in and have created a classic.
 Heterotopia by SCHOOLTREE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.98 | 65 ratings

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Heterotopia
Schooltree Crossover Prog

Review by gat

5 stars I had the privilege of seeing the first public performance of this new rock opera at Oberon in Cambridge, MA on March 31, 2017 and it was an amazing live show. The album version is just as gripping. I can't stop listening to it.

There is so much about this album that I love, but I really want to call out the excellent piano and vocals by Lainey Schooltree and amazing keyboard work by Peter Danilchuk. This is an ambitious concept album that doesn't feel bombastic or overblown. It's extremely listenable, has a lot of variety and an interesting storyline.

I've listened to a lot of prog and seen some great shows over the years, but this was the first time I've been inspired to post a review and rating - it's that good. Highly recommended!

 Rise by SCHOOLTREE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.84 | 12 ratings

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Rise
Schooltree Crossover Prog

Review by Raff
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars In the early months of this year, while browsing through the albums on the excellent Progstreaming website, looking from some yet undiscovered gems, I had my first taste of Boston quartet Schooltree ? one year after the release of "Rise", their debut album. Among the glut of frankly unexciting releases that seem to have become the norm on the increasingly overcrowded prog scene, "Rise" was a true find, a refreshing example of pure art rock focused on tightly written songs, interesting musical textures, and ? last but not least ? mainwoman Lainey Schooltree's impressive pipes.

Fast forward to mid-October 2014, when I was able to experience the band in its live dimension, on the small but colourful stage of Roxy and Dukes Roadhouse in Dunellen (NJ), as part of the second edition of the NJ Proghouse Homecoming Weekend. Lainey and her bandmates' cheerful stage presence and obvious love for their craft won them a lot of new fans, and the announcement that their new album would be a "rock opera" came as a tantalizing bit of information.

The names of Tori Amos and Kate Bush have often been mentioned in conjunction with Schooltree's music, and even a cursory spin of "Rise" will reveal those influences. However, it would be very unfair to Lainey and the rest of the band to peg them as derivative, because their music has got more than enough individuality to please even demanding listeners such as myself.

Though female-fronted progressive rock bands are anything but exceptional these days, not all of them are equally impressive. By virtue of the above-mentioned influences ? as well as that of Queen, which comes to the fore in the instrumental arrangements ? Schooltree steer well clear of any suspicion of cutesiness, and even the operatic component of the vocals owes more to Freddie Mercury than Annie Haslam and her slew of imitators. Lainey's long experience as a vaudeville performer in the Boston underground arts scene is also brought to bear to create a scintillating, thoroughly enjoyable concoction that feels comfortingly familiar, yet also modern and original. In just over 6 minute, opener "Six Feet Up" sums up what "Rise" is about, its many tempo and mood changes making it a shining example of art rock mini-epic without any of the pretensions too often inherent to the format.

Lainey's primary instrument, the keyboards, provide a solid framework for her bandmates ? the consistently excellent Brendan Burns (guitar), Derk Van Wormer (bass) and Jordan Ross (drums) ? to deploy their dexterity. Elegant, whimsical piano flurries embellish the album's nine songs, complementing Lainey's assertive yet emotional singing, and contrasting with the bite of the guitar riffs, while a judicious use of the harmonizer adds layers of airy vocal harmonies that fit the music to a T. In fact, the title-track fully exploits the expressive potential of the instrument, with Lainey's voice emoting a cappella in haunting fashion. With a very restrained running time of about 42 minutes, Rise contains no filler, and each song is equally relevant to the overall result ? both buoyant numbers such as the infectious "Today", and more low-key ones such as "Heavenside" or the waltzy "Let's Dance". "Reprise", with Lainey's exquisite vocalizations accompanied by rippling piano and dramatic guitar slashes in the style of Brian May, wraps up the album by putting authoritatively forward the band's prog credentials

Those who do not necessarily equate progressive rock with lengthy epics and instrumental pyrotechnics will find a lot to love in "Rise", one of the best debut albums to come out of the prolific US scene in the past few years, featuring strong performances from all band members, great singing and intriguing lyrics. Highly recommended to fans of modern female-fronted bands such as MoeTar and Half Past Four, this is an album everyone can enjoy - all the while waiting for their sophomore "rock opera" to surface some time in 2015.

Thanks to kev rowland for the artist addition.

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