Tag Archives: Decemberists

Things Are Sweeter When They’re Wild

An in-depth look at We Have Cause to Be Uneasy by Wild Sweet Orange

Wild Sweet Orange live in Charlotte, NC in 2008

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

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.

The band, from left to right: Kelly, Shaw, Lovinggood, and Kilpatrick

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

Lovinggood

“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:

Because you
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!

~Josh

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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!]

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Concert Watch September 2009

Okay, to kick things off here at the Blog – we’ve got a whole slew of great concerts in New York’s Backyard this month.

The Black Crowes in 2009

The Black Crowes in 2009

Tonight The Black Crowes are playing a full park at Summerstage with Levon Helm. We’re sending some lucky listeners out to see the show and we hope they enjoy it! You may have heard that Levon has been easing up on his voice lately. At Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport, CT in July he was completely forbidden from singing by his doctor. But apparently he will grace the crowd at Central Park with a few songs this evening. And speaking of voices, David Holt, one of the listeners who will be at the show, told us that Westchester Medical Center is going to be featuring his voice in an upcoming spot for the air. If you miss the show tonight, don’t worry. The Crowes will be playing again tomorrow night at the Capitol One Bank Theatre in Westbury.

We also have some listeners going to see the Killers play this evening at the PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey. They just came off of a great show last night at the Nikon Theatre at Jones Beach and are sure to wow the crowd again tonight.

YPB t-shirt designed by Elvis Perkins
YBP t-shirt designed by
Elvis Perkins

Also tonight, one of my favorite artists, Elvis Perkins, will be playing with Ra Ra Riot at The Housing Works Bookstore in New York City. Ra Ra Riot, as you know, played the first night of All Points West, smack dab between The Fleet Foxes and The National. In any case, the tickets are $15 but I highly suggest you check it out because all proceeds are going to support the Yellow Bird Project (YBP), and their release of the Indie Rock Coloring Book. If you haven’t heard of YBP, they “harness [bands’] magical indie powers to help out those in need” by letting bands have a hand at designing t-shirts which they sell on their website. Check them out!

Red Molly, a hidden gem at The Pleasantville Music Festival, will be playing on September 7th at another festival, the American Roots Outdoor Festival in Piermont, NY. They’re an acoustic folk trio featuring three women, and they’ve got a great sense of humor and a very acute sensibility to their music.

And the Kings of Leon are coming to town! Catch them first at the IZOD center on September 12th, and then at Nassau Colisseum on September 14th. You’ve heard “Use Somebody” and “Sex On Fire” recently on The Peak, but if you take a trip back a few albums you’ll find the hilariously dirty “Soft” on Aha Shake Heartbreak. And if you’re thinking about going, don’t forget to brush up on “Molly’s Chambers,” their first single off of their very first studio album Youth and Young Manhood.

Mike Gordon

Mike Gordon

And there’s plenty more: Mike Gordon of PHISH will be performing on Tuesday the 8th at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Mike will be sure to play some cuts off of his latest 2008 record The Green Sparrow, as well as some other great hits.

For all Beatles fans out there the Fab Faux will be headlining a show at the Beacon Theatre on September 12th. Hailed by Rolling Stone as “cerebral,” and appearing on David Letterman at the beginning of the year, the Fab Faux are a great way to re-hear the music of the Beatles.

And it continues! The Decemberists will be playing two shows: one on the 19th at the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza with a special set chosen by lottery, and the other on the 22nd at the Wellmont Theatre in New Jersey. Snow Patrol will be working their way through their U.S. tour (with a minor detour to Canada) by playing two shows at the Beacon Theatre on the 22nd and 23rd.

Pheonix

Pheonix

Also, be sure not to miss the fantastic French newcomers Pheonix at Rumsey Playfield on the 25th, as well Mat Kearney also coming to Irving Plaza on the 29th. (Note: Mat  Kearney is not to be confused with Pat Carney, the drummer for the Black Keys who recently formed his own solo project, Drummer, in which he plays bass. Talk about confusing.)

Loudon and Lucy
Loudon and Lucy

And that’s not even the half of it! Get the full concert listing on the Peak’s website. For example, Rodrigo y Gabriela, the Latin influenced guitar duo are coming to town, as well as Loudon Wainwright III, who will be playing a show the HighLine ballroom on the 15th with son and daughter Rufus and Martha Wainwright. And if that wasn’t already enough of a family affair, The Roches will be playing with them. The Roches are formed by Loudon’s third child, Lucy, plus his wife Suzzy, and sisters-in-law Terre and Maggie. If you’re confused at this point, don’t worry, I am too. I promise I will draw a family tree and post it ASAP.

U2

U2

And how could this concert watch be complete without mention of U2 playing at Giants Stadium? The shows will be on the 24th and 25th. To make their apprearances even sweeter, The Peak will be sending some listeners to the shows. Stop by the Listener Advisory Board from September 8th through the 18th to sign up.

All of this and more to come throughout September. Again, check out our full concert listing on the Peak’s website by clicking here.

And if you’re not concert-going enjoy the last weeks of summer, which I guess means more rain.

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