Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Orange Peels Circling The Sun

Keep hearing albums this year that I wish were slightly better. I'm starting to feel like a guy with a house full of half-empty glasses.

Disclaimer: when I scan reviews and see a combo of the words "Beach Boys," "California," "Summer," and "Power pop," my brain usually shuts off and I have to run into the other room and play the Axemen's Three Virgins for a while until I wake up.

But I did get a copy of the new Orange Peels album Circling The Sun in the mail, and I listen to everything I get in the mail (because I don't get very many CDs in the mail, so it's still kind of exciting). I know the band well, having spent an inordinate amount of time trying to like their first album (unsuccesfully). I've realized at some point that what I'd really like is if head Peel Allen Clapp would hook up with a Scott Miller type weirdo (if not Scott Miller himself) because Allen's good with the verses and the singing, bad with the lyrics and bridges and the little odds-and-ends and fiddly bits that transform good pop/power-pop into greatness.

About half of Circling The Sun is top-notch, even to this doubter, and I'm pretty sure that people who frequent Notlame will love it, love it, love it. A few songs have the feel of early 90's US indie doing 80's UK indie-pop (think some of the non-shoegaze parts of Spin Art's One Last Kiss comp.) and it's a direction that I find peppier and more interesting than the more California-sounding tracks. If you can find it elsewhere, check out a bouncy track called What's It Like Mary Jo? for an example of what I'm talking about.

On the other hand, the "radio ready" song is pretty clearly I Don't Wanna Shine, the story of a young light bulb who dreams of being a dentist. If only. Perfect example of mediocre lyrics futzing up a killer power-pop hook. Note how the song gets way more interesting on the third verse when we start to get a little creative with the mixing desk. More of that, Allen!!!

So, if you liked their old albums, this one's a no brainer. Buy it ( yadda yadda yadda). Not sure it's the CD to break them to a super-wide audience, and there are a couple of tracks that I personally find flat out icky: every time Boy In Space comes on ("Standing here, before you now, hoping for, something somehow, looking for, an open door, this is what, I'm hoping for") I dive, dive, dive for the fast forward button. That's the exception, not the rule.

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