The Vancouver Island alternative rock band The Symphony Tree has been through quite a lot since they formed back in the summer of 2010. Back then The Symphony Tree was a three-piece band consisting of Nick Paisley (vocals, guitar), Rob Mensch (guitar) and former vocalist Shea Hartley. At that time their gigs consisted of playing acoustic covers of Bright Eyes and Wintersleep for friends at parties. Shortly thereafter Paisley and Mensch began to write original songs and the band saw members come and go, and at one time The Symphony Tree was seven members strong. The band continued to rework the lineup until it settled on the current four-piece lineup of Nick Paisley on vocals and guitar, Rob Mensch on guitar, Jade Scotland on bass and drummer Nelson Sanrud.
They began to record their debut four-song EP Fear of Green EP in the spring of 2013 at Risque Disque Records studio in Lantzville, BC, though due to schedule conflicts amongst the members, it would be two years before Fear of Green EP would finally be released.
The EP opens with “Fear of Green” with its slow and watery guitars, and deep though restrained drum beats in the vein of early period Modest Mouse, a band who The Symphony Tree are admittedly fans of. The slow restraint remains for the entirety of the track though it was the allegorical lyrics that I felt most drawn too. In the song the narrator is turned into a fish and must struggle and finally take solace in the fact that he is no longer able to return to land and breathe air as he once used to.
In contrast the next track “Bluebird” is about flight. The tune has a rambling bluesy groove to it. What really gives the song its edge is the additional twang-y vocals from Gabrielle Paisley which give “Bluebird” a depth it wouldn’t otherwise have. By the time one gets to the quiet rocker “To Alaska!” the jig seems up on Fear of Green EP, by which I mean that it is another slow and ambling rocker that fails to really go anywhere or add any variety to the slow moving EP. Luckily however the final track, “For All Time” does pick up the pace with its upbeat and borderline jam band riffs.
For all its bright spots, Fear of Green EP has the feel of a record that has sat around for too long while its makers were busy doing other things. It lacks the spontaneity that such a short record should have. It sounds like a novice debut though it leaves me wondering how The Symphony Tree’s chops have tightened in the years since the initial conception of Fear of Green EP and what a now more experienced version of the band will sound like.
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