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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Orange Peels
Circling the Sun
Parasol Records

Rating: 6.5/10 ?

July 26, 2005
I have been to California. I have driven along the coast, shared a beer with an aging surfer-hippie, smoked medicinal marijuana and let the earth finish its rotation without notice. After these experiences, I finally understand the airy, ephemeral, upbeat pop the state has inspired. When compared with Wisconsin, where we have too few months in which the daylight slowly turns to evening, California days feel as if they move bit by bit - lazily, unhurriedly. Or maybe that was just the potů

The Orange Peels slather themselves in familiarity of West Coast pop predictabilities without being all that predictable. Their airy, catchy songwriting is filled with sugary guitar chords and momentary multi-instrumental noodling that drones and positions itself in just the right spots.

At first seemingly over-the-top with its gratingly catchy chorus, snappy lyrics and glittery guitar work, the title track, "Circling the Sun," is one of their strongest, eliciting the classic mood of California-inspired pop. It quickly grows on the listener; as well, the album is more likeable during such sunny moods than when it reaches for sensitively relayed introspection.

"What's It Like Mary Jo?" is one of the few songs on Circling the Sun that successfully sounds bittersweet, mixing guitar-driven catchy simplicity with the twang and slowed delivery of other efforts, "California Blue" and "Long Cold Summer." When the songwriting does flirt more forwardly with melancholia, as on "Long Cold Summer", the elementary-style lyrics - which are loaded with subtle adult neuroses - sound like trivial lamenting. There is nothing here that couldn't be fixed with a candy bar and a kiss on the cheek.

Indeed, the Orange Peels are at their best when happy, moving quickly from song to song and not staying anywhere for too long; as such, Circling the Sun has shifting ups and downs. Primary songwriter Allen Clapp writes catchy ditties that are influenced by, but not derivative of, earlier dreamy pop. With a combination of both standard and daring instrumentation and momentary strays from convention, The Orange Peels have put together a record that could have been, very easily, a real bore. Luckily, it is not. The songs are unique, though familiar, and Clapp knows when to pull back after laying it on pretty thick. Circling the Sun, with all its talk of long sunny days and hazy reflective nights, drives its point home: California's cool. Wisconsin sucks.

Reviewed by Abbie Amadio
The last we heard Abbie Amadio, a former contributor to LAS, was based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

See other reviews by Abbie Amadio



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