Home Read Albums Of The Week: Coley Park | Devil Tree Reissue

Albums Of The Week: Coley Park | Devil Tree Reissue

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Devil Tree is a groovy, soulful country-psych gem from Reading’s Coley Park — and second of three wonderful albums the band recorded between 2002-2006 in a spirit of determined DIY independence and sonic discovery. This reissue was assembled from the original tapes, which were unearthed and reformed by founder member Nick Holton and co-producer Neil Halstead.

From tunes so fragile they could shatter, to epic but lo-fi woozy, English psych, you can feel the joy of a band discovering how to mash up driving fuzzy wah-wah guitar with banjo, slide, the odd trumpet and Nick Portnell’s warmly vulnerable, defiant vocals — only to end up with a sound that contains echoes of Gram Parsons’ Flying Burrito Brothers, Guided By Voices, T.Rex and more.

Opener Milky Moon surges with surf guitar and a punky snarl with echoes of early Beck — due in no small part to the spooky lines: “How nice I am when you understand / Deep wounds I am, across the spine.” Eyes Are Only Water has a punky attitude driven by Kevin Wells’ unique wah lap-steel sound, followed by the delicious Theremin wobble of Scared Of Heights. Sleeping On Roads has a woozy, waltzy swing. Hidden Stars, sung by banjo / slide / guitarist Wells, floats like a gorgeous, cracked Nick Drake ballad.

Side 2 opens with the galloping electro whoosh of Sleeping Apart. Martial drums, country slide guitar, banjo and a fuzzed-up wah-wah outro. It’s the album in a nutshell — bold, joyful, out there. Blue Hearts is a standout ballad. A slow burn alt-country swing that sets up You Won’t Get Out Alive. Which sounds like the hit Mercury Rev missed. Pump organ, melancholy, and a sweet push in the last verse that turns the song into a genuine anthem. The album closes with Across The Carpet Stars. Wells’ cracked vocals and Lewis Carrol lyrics describing a comedown tale, perfectly capturing the blown, opened mind and heart on the morning after.

It’s Halstead’s second collab with the band, following his Holton-produced solo LP Sleeping On Roads’ (title borrowed from the Park song), and captures their resolute ‘outsider indie’ ethos beautifully. The songs are all catchy as hell and heavy. Prayers for escape, closeness, understanding they just exude soul. It has that indefinable, authentic vibe of a real band record. Each member brings a distinct, weird, unlikely something, that together made the entire album sound new in 2004. It still sounds new.”