Oranger, New Comes And Goes - Like the title says, this is solidly crafted power-pop, no more or less fashionable than it will be ten years from now. Oranger is, according to press notes I got, a San Francisco band that's been knocking around for a while; it has the typical indie rock revolving cast of members (this incarnation, if memory serves, boasts one of the guys from Creeper Lagoon, a teen-angst fave of mine that couldn't be more different). This time, they make barely produced, sparsely arranged guitar-pop. It works. If you listen to closely, it becomes apparent that there's little room for error in this kind of stream-lined pop; a few songs (I'd suggest the primitive "Outtatoch") drag it down, but cutting them makes the album flow even better. Otherwise, not much to say: "Haeter" and "Flying Pretend" back to back means you get a great, punchy pop song (organs in all the right spots, taut drums, a right-on hook) followed by a super-fragile ballad composed pretty much exclusively of piano, vox, and recording fuzz. The good people at Eenie Meenie Records sent multiple promo copies of this, in apparent hopes that they'd get a slot in our meagerly important pages. Sorry guys; I couldn't justify catering to my pop fetish all the time in our reviews. Consider this my apology.
The Dandy Warhols, Odditorium or Warlords Of Mars - a gigantic load of crap. Evidently trying to reclaim some of the "credibility" Dig! stripped them of (as if really doing heroin instead of only pretending to had anything to do with iconic mythology, let alone writing catchy songs), the Warhols delve into one exercise after another of droning, confusing instrumentation and "jams" that go nowhere, with people playing without any real regard for one another. One song stands out as the obligatory clever new single: "All The Money Or the Simple Life Honey" has jangle and cheery horn arrangements to spare as Courtney Taylor-Taylor tells you what it's like to play "in a rock 'n roll band" where you better "do what the man says." I can't even begin to parse the layers of irony: do the Warhols (especially on this messy, thoroughly uncommerical - not to mention wretched - album) really kowtow to the man, especially considering that their biggest success came from a European TV commercial after their label faltered in promoting them adequately, and gave the label Welcome To The Monkey House's synth-pop instead of more pseudo-garage? Or does being successful and wanting to write catchy songs make you an automatic sell-out? Can you do what The Man wants and still be autonomous? Whatever. The rest of this album is well-nigh unlistenable.
Radar Bros., The Fallen Leaf Pages - gave it an agonizing three listens, then gratefully gave up. The Bros.' 2002 release ...And The Surrounding Mountains is a great album, one which builds up a mood of inexplicable, cumulative power. Songs revolved around uncles, mothers, and sons in relationships of ambiguous but unmistakable violence; the tension between the lyrics and the stately arrangements was hypnotic. This is just, you know, a bunch of slow-ass songs with no hooks and no larger conceptual framework. Fuck that.