Totally Trippy, Dude
Los Angeles psychedelic garage rockers The Smoking Trees are as interesting as psychedelic garage rock sounds. Consisting of just two dudes who call themselves “Sir Psych” (multi-instrumentalist/producer) and “L.A.AL” (multi-instrumentalist/singer/chopper-of-music), the pair has been making music together for a decade (with a band called The Clerk Two Project for years first), releasing a few things here and there. Acetates is their debut album and it consists of pretty much everything, including folk, hip-hop, pop, psychedelia, and even a talking baby.
The album’s twenty-one songs (don’t worry, “The Things That You Don’t See” serves as an intermission) blend together so it’s sometimes hard to tell when one song ends and another begins. Some songs are slow and feel a lot longer than the mere two minutes that they are, and many are upbeat, but there is no shortage of surprises. Opening track “Entrance” exemplifies this, containing a sitar track that sounds like it’s being spun on a turntable, a simple drum beat, and spacey sounds that are hard to put your finger on what they really are. Then you hear a low voice like the one from “Home Alone” when Kevin is using his TalkBoy to trick the employees of the Plaza Hotel into thinking he’s an adult, and then you hear that babbling baby.
“Merry Go Maggie” contains equally deranged sounds and might scare you right off the bat if you aren’t into carnivals, since the short song (under three minutes) begins and ends with what sounds like an old recording of carnival ride music. The second track, “See,” switches gears into classic surf rock territory and proves the duo can write more than just trippy tracks.
The album ends with the self-titled ten-minute track “Acetates,” beginning as slow-moving, with slightly lethargic vocals amidst a keyboard and drum set before the sad-sounding electric guitar chimes in. Midway through, an old “Seal of Good Practice” television recording is played before the music stops and then builds up again after a long pause using those sad guitar chords and keys.
Since Acetates contains so many tracks, you’ll find songs that are both indie-rock radio hits and seemingly directionless trippy freakiness. It’s a wonder how The Smoking Trees come up with some of this stuff.