Tea Leaf Green was formed during 1996 when Scott Rager and the band’s original bassist, Ben Chambers, met at San Francisco State University. Since their formation they have been prolific, releasing eight studio albums, six live releases, two DVD’s, and even a three-CD box set. The band currently consists of vocalist/keyboardist Trevor Garrod, guitarist/vocalist Josh Clark, drummer Scott Rager, and bassist Reed Mathis. They recently added a second drummer, Cochrane McMillan.
They were originally formed as a jam band and their concerts still adhere to that concept. Their early albums contained a number of improvisational-type tracks. Lately, however, they have been moving in a more structured direction. The music is tight, the harmonies full, and the production precise. Their new album, Radio Tragedy, which will be released in a couple of weeks, reflects this new direction.
Oddly it is the lead track, “All Washed Up,” that is completely different from what follows. It has a very raw feel, with keyboards and guitar creating a jumble of sounds. The vocal is spoken in places. It can best be labeled as punk/pop.
While the overall sound is best labeled power pop, one of the better tracks, “Fallen Angel,” is smooth and exuberant with a country feel to it. “Easy To Be Your Lover” meanders in a number of directions and features an excellent solo by guitarist Josh Clark. The real surprise is the Bee Gees type harmonies that are just about dead on.
There are a number of other tracks that are also worth a listen. “Honey Bee” has a buzzing guitar over a drum foundation. “You’re My Star” is a good example of the sophisticated pop that now forms the basis of their sound. “Germinating Seed” looks back on the band’s early days, and has an improvisational feel as the keyboards and guitar play off of one another.
Tea Leaf Green is one of those bands that have been steadily assembling an impressive catalogue for over a decade now. While they remain somewhat under the commercial radar, they are constantly touring and there albums sell moderately well. Radio Tragedy continues their journey toward a new and more developed sound. If you are willing to take a chance on something new and have some fun along the way, this may be an album for you.