Reviews:: Wild Sweet Orange

Usually if someone told me a band that toed the line between southern rock and radio friendly rock, I'd smile politely and start watching some sort of 1950's stereotypical animation in my mind (you know the kind they always play to show someone is no longer paying attention?).

Well, even with my closed mind, Wild Sweet Orange was able to keep me listening. Not like they need my support; they've already been championed by KEXP/Grey's Anatomy and have toured with the like of the Broken West and the Whigs. No, WSO are certainly ready to explode when they release their debut full length, but while their sound might be perfect for radio success, I can honestly say that it never comes across as formulaic. Not once did I think these Birmingham boys ever started trying to write music for the masses. No, instead I just assume that they just kind of stumbled into a nice combination of acoustic, electric and static that sound great together.

The first song on the EP really showcases that fact. Wrestle with God is a rollicking, heavy guitar number about the doubts of a Christian. I'm not sure the buzz saw guitars on the choruses really mix with the subject matter, and that's why the band grabs your attention. Opening with a song about faith, well, let's just say that's not a standard call from the play book.

Instead of keeping it safe, they often try little variations and transitions you wouldn't expect. The simple strums and electric noodle of the closing track - I'm Coming Home - is instantly infectious, with just the right amount of 80's pep. The song sparkles, especially when the harmonies kick in, but doesn't drift into the sugary sweet trap that sinks most songs. It's little sections like the almost off time guitar work they add at the two & and half minute mark that keep you guessing and paying attention.

They do the same thing on Land of No Return. After building a soaring ballad, they jump into a folky, double time, folky break down before climaxing the song and it works well after Be Careful What You Want - a track with a nice bouncy bass line and the muscle-y feedback and distortion of the lead guitar.

I don't really think calling these guys a guilty pleasure is fair. While they will certainly draw the ear of more than a few less than critical listeners, that doesn't seem to be their sole intention. It will be interesting to see where these guys go when they release a complete LP, but signs are pointing to up, up, up.

MP3:: I'm Coming Home

label :: myspace

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