An in-depth look at We Have Cause to Be Uneasy by Wild Sweet Orange
Your favorite radio station, 107.1 The Peak, receives truckloads of CDs each day, many from local artists, but most are shipped in by bands or record labels from out of state (or out of country). Chris Herrmann and Rob Arrow pull out the ones that they’re interested, and even then just a small handful of that select group make it onto the air. This is how they assure that every Wednesday, you get the best “hand-picked new music” around.
What this means for me is that I get to dive into a dozen or so mail crates full of CDs and pull out a couple (usually around 50 or so) to take home and listen to.
We Have Cause to Be Uneasy by Wild Sweet Orange is the band’s first full-length album, and it really stood out from the other records I had brought home, despite the fact that I had never heard of the band before. When the album was released in 2008, the band was comprised of Preston Lovinggood on vocals and guitar, Chip Kilpatrick on drums, Taylor Shaw on guitar and Garrett Kelly on bass. Their songs have a worn-in feel, born from the heart of Alabama. But let’s talk about the music already.
01. Ten Dead Dogs The record starts off with the band’s most popular song – Ten Dead Dogs, which they performed live on David Letterman in 2008. The jarring opening lyrics, “I saw ten dead dogs/On the side of the road”, at once shock and draw in the listener. But Lovinggood’s voice is so smooth to listen to that even in the album’s darkest moments, it shines with optimism. The perfectly timed “oh”s later on in the song ring brightly like the sun through the clouds. And the variation in the drums with subtle extra sixteenth notes add welcome texture.
02. Tilt“Tilt” follows soon after, and it lets you know that the band isn’t going to cave to expectations. After about a minute and a half of subdued intensity, the song explodes with distorted guitar and a driving quarter-note feel. This song gives an inkling of Lovinggood’s vocal power to come.
03. Seeing & Believing What’s most pleasing for me is the fact that Wild Sweet Orange refuses to let cliches take over their originality. Maybe I’m just biased, but when they pull an almost Green Day style chorus late in the album’s next song, “Seeing & Believing” it doesn’t sound canned at all.
04. Either/Or Lovinggood pushes his self-created boundaries on “Either/Or” the album’s fourth track, by screaming over dissonant guitar, even as he sings “More like a voice less like a noise/More like a soul less like a void”.
05. Sour Milk 06. An Atlas to Follow The band brings on accordion for the next song, “Sour Milk”, but the real treat is the banjo featured on “An Atlas to Follow”. The song is a protective charm against the dark spirits of the world:
This little light of mine,
Shine bright and blind the reaper’s eyes.
Hear you stomping on the tops of pines
We rest as death lays on his knife.
07. House of Regret The band brings out another hard-hitter, with “House of Regret”. It starts off a little rocky, despite heavy, grounded tom fills; but as the song builds from just Lovinggood’s voice and Kelly’s bass to it’s roaring climax you can feel chills running through you.
08. Crickets “Crickets” is a watertight song. It’s got a sick drum hook and wonderfully atmospheric guitars thanks to some smart capo work. Lovinggood’s voice comes threateningly close to a whisper, at points, especially as he sings “She don’t believe anything she don’t believe anything/But I would believe anything I would believe anything”.
09. Aretha’s Gold
“Aretha’s Gold” is by far and wide the best song on the album, although the band heavily favored “Ten Dead Dogs” for promos and the like. It’s definitely the climax of the album, and is the most dynamic as well. It begins and ends with acoustic guitar, but what the band pulls off in-between is incredible. Aretha’s Gold is Aretha Franklin’s first compilation album, containing “Respect”. In the song, Lovinggood sings about what caused :
And it was Aretha’s Gold
And it was the way you told
Me to just shut up and
Try to enjoy myself
But that I can never do
So now it’s Joni’s Blue
Oh, and dreams and dreams and dreams and dreams of you
Joni, of course, being Joni Mitchell. The song builds to its first climax with spacey guitar and a big back beat. The first chorus rises with simple harmony and then just as the song breaks free, half the band cuts out baring Lovinggood’s voice and exposing the bass and the drums. But what really moves me are the song’s final refrains. As the song reverts back to just acoustic guitar, Lovinggood spills out all the emotion his voice can support:
You’re as tameless as an ocean.
I want to love you but commotion
Oh, it ravages me whole.
Oh and me
I’m as dramatic as the thunder.
My lightning scares as she rolls over,
Oh yeah she needs to get some sleep.
And as Lovinggood sings those words, the walls surrounding the band collapse and the guitar and the drums come pouring in. Finally, the music drains out leaving just the acoustic guitar once again, and the words become a distillation of the sentiments of the entire album.
10. Night Terrors “Night Terrors” sounds very similar to some Decemberists songs, and it smartly observes that “Not everything is a metaphor/… Like the way she slams her bedroom door/ That doesn’t mean a thing.”
11. The Land of No Return Finally, Wild Sweet Orange finds some long-deserved catharsis with “The Land of No Return”, slow and thoughtful with drums resonating from the hills.
Unfortunately, these guys aren’t still together, but Lovinggood, and drummer Chip Kilpatrick are still together and are hopefully putting out a new album this year. You can find out more information on the band’s website, as well as their myspace – where they’ve got some tracks from their earlier EPs. Happy listening!
PEAK KEYWORD: SWEET[I truly hope you listen to these songs and enjoy them as much as I do. I’ll be the first to say that I’m glossing over the negatives; however this article isn’t a critical review, but a celebration of music. So please, listen, enjoy and let me know what you think!]