First, I’ll let you freak out over some of the names of the players who make up the current incarnation of The Orange Humble Band:  Darryl Mather, the mind behind The Lime Spiders and The Some Loves, Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer who are members of bands called The Posies and Big Star (1993 – 2010), Mitch Easter – master of production, guitar and Let’s Active, Mr. Jody Stephens, CEO of Ardent Studios and singer for Those Pretty Wrongs/drummer for Big Star (yes, THAT Big Star); Rick Steff from Lucero on keyboards and Dave Smith from Cat Power on bass…  Then look at just some of the good folks who joined in for this record:  legends like Van Duren, Dwight Twilley and Spooner Oldham; the tireless and amazing Susan Cowsill and so on.  Also add to that string arrangements by Carl Marsh and Chris Stamey.  Is that enough?  Do you want to now know about how good this album is?

Because that’s the thing – the line-up of people involved insured that this would, indeed, be one fine album.  The words “lush”, “pop”, “melodic” aren’t hackneyed or overused; certainly not when trying to describe the sounds that emanate from this CD – 15 tracks, which is an unparalleled aural feast.  Recorded at Ardent in Memphis, Tennesee and Fidelatorium in Kernersville, North Carolina, this is almost a dream – a power-pop all star band; all heavy hitters who hit a collective grand slam with the wryly-titled Depressing Beauty.  Started in 2012 and completed/released now, it was worth the wait because this is gold.

“You Close Your Eyes” starts the proceedings off with a dream-pop, touches of neo-psychedelic, harmony-drenched kick in the ear; “The Girl Without A Name” is filled with strings, acoustic guitars, pianos and recalls The Bee Gess at their earliest best (think 1st or Horizontal); “Conversations With Myself” takes on the Jim Webb-style – serious, artfully arranged and gentle and “Sowannadoit” is a radio-friendly exercise in harmonies and melodies with its mid-’60’s catchy-ness.  “If That’s What You Want” has punchy horns, chiming guitars and is pure joyful pop; “Oughta Feel Ashamed” is acoustic-based and shimmering and “Something Goin’ On” takes me back to my childhood, when you would hear those wonderful mid-tempo ballads on A.M. radio.

As I said, 15 tracks – no filler and a lot to digest and savor.  Because that’s what this album is – a feast of pop and skill.  But enough hyperbole.  Seek this album out, buy it and undoubtedly, you will fall in love with it and listen to it over and over.  An instant classic.


Depressing Beauty is available now

About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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