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Yum Yum Tree puts four gears in reverse

Spring is here, and as dogwoods bud in Atlanta, the Yum Yum Tree has yielded a healthy crop of new songs. Reverse Engines, recorded last fall by Jason NeSmith (the Yeah!, Casper Fandango) at his Magic Foot Studio in Athens, is an expansive, darkly cinematic 11-track collection featuring the fruit of the bands' remarkable growth since its self-titled EP released early last year.

That hastily released four-song album landed the band in heavy rotation on Album 88. "We didn't even have a regular guitar player yet," says Andy Gish, vocalist/bassist/songwriter for the band. "I just sent the disc in, and they started playing it. So there's proof that they actually do open unsolicited mail there."

Almost immediately, the band was invited to open for national touring acts, often presenting a more unified and professional show than the headliners. Their mix of spiraling guitars — tempered in the tradition of the Pixies, with the sparkling yet slightly menacing psychedelia of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd — proved to be varied enough to mesh well bands as diverse as Pontius Co-Pilot and Eleni Mandell.

In her native Texas, Gish was a member of prog-rock band the Lost Episodes for eight years before moving to Atlanta to form the Yum Yum Tree in the fall of 2000 with Georgia residents Matt Harr (drums) and Kent Honea (guitar). With the addition of guitarist Scott Lewis, the quartet has solidified a pleasingly tight presentation of catchy, crunchy pop songs with a slightly creepy, mysterious edge.

"Mystery is good," says Gish. "We don't have to spell out everything, and I think that people who enjoy us are able to fill in some lines here and there."

The Yum Yum Tree plays The Earl Sat., March 23.??