Smoking Trees - Tst [VINYL] - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Smoking Trees - Tst [VINYL]

by Jeff Penczak Rating:10 Release Date:2015-07-06

The California duo Sir Psych and L.A. AL (Rivera) formed The Smoking Trees about 15 years ago, but this is only their second full-length, following on from 2012’s excellent Acetates. (Their extensive discography includes numerous solo albums as well as releases as members of other projects. Many of you collectors may also be familiar with Sir Psych’s extensive – some might say exhaustive - collection of rare psych compilations of Rubbles and Nuggets-style 45s, over 75 at last count, that he shared via his blog.)

As with Acetates, the pair mix sound effects, soundbites, and multi-media drop-ins amongst their trippy, paisley-coloured pop, which benefits from their encyclopaedic knowledge of the 60s psych scene. Flowery Pepperisms float across the delightful daybreaker, ‘Good Morning’, while ‘Home in the Morning’ evinces a distinct Beau Brummels’ flair that updates their pop sensibilities with freakier, friendlier flourishes from current day practitioners like Balduin, Jacco Gardner, and Anton Barbeau’s Three Minute Tease.

What would you expect from a song called ‘Trips’ (in these surroundings, at any rate?) Well, The Trees deliver a floating, sitar-drenched dreamaway that’ll have eyelids drooping and cotton mouths salivating in no time flat. Phasing, swirling keyboards, shimmering guitars, and sleepy vocals lift ‘It’s Only Natural’ out of mere Rutles caricature, delivering an honest-to-goodness pop-psych single that could be the defining sound of the summer of ’15, while the surreally oxymoronic ‘Awake in Your Dreams’ drops chiming bells, vibrattoed guitars, and marshall drumming into those sugar cubes you’ve been sweetening your cuppa with.

Then there’s the tongue-in-cheekily titled ‘She Takes Flight’, which opens with the pair sparking up and proceeds to, well, fly heavenward on a haze of purple prose wrapped around a childlike whimsical tune that’ll put an illegal smile on El Syd’s mug. Toss in some omnipresent phasing and you’ll be gone for daze. And it only gets better from here….

'Island of Adventure’ has the childlike quality of a Donovan fairy tale, ca A Gift From a Flower to a Garden and H.M.S. Donovan, ‘Rose Flower Lilac’ shuffles along on little fluffy clouds (backward-masked vocals and all), ‘California Air’ takes us to the beach for more California Dreamin' (I was reminded more than once of a slight, Byrdsy ‘Draft Morning’ vibe – never a bad thing), and ‘Through Your Reflection’ closes by introducing another playfully psychedelic Alice in Wonderland ambience that’ll put a Cheshire smile on your face.

As may be apparent by now, this is one of my favourite albums of the year.

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