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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Orange Sky

Upstairs

Review by Josh Turner

As I listen to the new wave jazz being pumped over the office's intercom system, the headphones quickly come on. For this morning's selection, I have chosen Orange Sky to save me from this awfully irreverent elevator music. This is not the sequel to Vanilla Sky; that twisted movie starring Tom Cruise. Instead, this one stars an independent cast of benevolent musicians. In this flick, we get rock that rolls and riffs that ripple. It's more than sufficient to drown the dreadful music out. This album rocks enough to think the sky is falling, but don't be a Chicken Little! Go outside your comfort zone and check this album out.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
It's Over
It's obvious this band was influenced by the nineties. I can hear Hootie and the Blowfish, Blues Traveler, and Dave Matthews in the mix. The edgy angst reminds me of Alanis Morisette's "You Ought to Know". The acoustics come and go like Sheryl Crowe, but by no means is this a romantic comedy by the director who shares her surname. It's dark and delightful, which is why this tasty delicatessen is best served with a rosy-red wine. The bass scavenges the ocean floor searching for brackish algae. In the salty seaweed, it swims along schools of bottom-feeding fish.
Escape
This is System of a Down on a substantial dose of anti-depressants. It's equal in attitude, but suited for a lesser volume. As a generic, it's marketed under an alternate name, but treats the patient listener to the same amount of active ingredient. I'd say it's somewhere along the lines of Apartment 26, you know, the band that draws its inspiration from David Lynch. With a spoonful of sugar, the wailing guitar gives this capsule a silky-smooth coating and helps the medicine go down.
Beautiful Day
Unlike the previous pill, this one is simple, repetitive, and penetrating. It's sung to the beat of a Jamaican jive. The bridge takes us over The River Qwai and into a bed of Guns n' Roses. If I had to plant this pompous pansy somewhere in the garden patch, I'd choose the grassy knolls that bare the lust and obsession of "You Could Be Mine."After this crunchy order of KFC Crispy Strips is consumed and the bones are tossed out, the container could be used as another tacky hat for Buckethead.
Tug of War
This is an amalgamation of Stone Temple Pilots, Collective Soul, and Live. It comes upon a freaky interlude and concludes with a wacky finish. At times it's Judas Priest, but never quite as heavy. It's the Cult of Personality letting loose with a bout of overly simplified lyrics. For those who don't like the main entrée, it comes with a fortune cookie and a gratuitous guitar bomb.
Angel
It's all of the above and a cut above the rest. It wavers between the rocking and the sublime. This is one of their best songs as they leave no stone unturned. It's like a boxful of assorted Scooby snacks and the singing parallels the parity of "It Wasn't Me" by Shaggy. In the short span of four minutes, we get several solos, bridges, and even another rocking outro.
Alone
At this point, there is hardly anything new being generated. Still, it continues to hum along just fine and dandy on auxiliary. By now, you've already gotten an idea of their range of influences and this keeps to the course of their holding pattern. Then again, running rampant in random reprieves, they ramble on to the rhythms of a rustic rap. These particular parts are closest in persona to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. While never rude, they intermingle with mannerisms that are quite astute and shrewd. When you put it all together, it's a blend of U2, REM, and UB40.
Peace Train
If you recognize the name of this track, there is good reason. It's a remarkable remake of Cat Stevens' beloved song. On top of that, it has Tarzan-like vocals that remind me of Blue Swede's "High on a Feeling." It's so laidback and trippy; I wouldn't be surprised to find Jimmy Buffet in attendance of this Caribbean Calypso. To enhance the sting of this stew, it receives several shakes of chili powder and a couple cranks of ground pepper.
Cast Away
Contemporary qualities continue to find their way into the music. Here we get Goo Goo Dolls, Foo Fighters, and a touch of Caroline Spine. The result is a raw and earnest ballad that's aloof, but never boorish.
Real Love
Due to popular demand, "Cheeseburger in Paradise" makes its return to the menu. It's a riveting ditty, but it's also hippie reggae. These types of influences work best for them. It's funny, the way they pull it off almost comes across like a polka. This song will make you want to mosh, bang your head, and then participate in a square dance. I could see this welcome on the airwaves even if it's not totally mainstream fare. After listening to this song, I became aware that the singer sounds a lot like Chris Barron from Spin Doctors. Then there's the section in the middle, which is not too unlike a skinny slab of Meatloaf. As for the instrumental elements, they make me think of "Krytonite" from Three Doors Down. The piano playing is hearty plus there are plenty of lumpy items thrown in. If Wally and the Beav don't want it, Mikey is sure to like it. It's the moral of the story to that famous rock soup fable. While they start with the basics, they wind up with nourishing nosh. There might be a numerological precedence in there too as this song bears resemblance to 10 Years and again, Apartment 26. This might be my favorite number on the disc due to the convoluted contortion employed on all the commercial stimulus.
Dogs
The number of influences continues to come out of the woodwork. This one is beaten black and blue by the likes of Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult. Additionally, it vacillates between the hungry riffs of King's X and the scaled-down vibe of Bob Marley.
Fallin'
It's like a tune written for No Doubt, but sung by Soundgarden's frontman. The bass is hot and bothered while the vocals are rather depressing. The guitars and drums gargle in a solution that's canned with carbonation and pep. It has just the right amount of pick-me-up for the moment. When it's time to bench the starters, the guitar's fleet-footed solo is all that's needed to hold off the opposition. With surgically-sharp blades affixed to his shoes, he tears up the ice and skates circles around his rivals. As a matter of consequence, players are pulled from the game. The penalty is short and before long, they're back at full strength. For the record, that's debatable as they were already unrelenting when undermanned. They slash and score, making the opposing squad suffer resentment and scorn. In spite of this, you won't feel forsaken as they provide leftover rations. With the second coming, there is rapture to the end. If you're into superficial qualities, chances are you fall for this song and get trapped by the local honey-catcher.
Alive
They called the witch doctor to tell them what to do. With surroundings that are silent and serene, the voodoo priest wakes up the nomadic neighborhood with nutty banter and crazy wordplay. The grungiest of riffs appear in the brief, but recurrent guitar solos. The pillage and plundering is periodic, but boy is it persistent. The assault and battery from the shredding reminds me of Guns n' Roses' Slash. Like Solomon Grundy, this song is a deadly behemoth with brutish appearance and lowbrow intellect. Yet, in the end, all is safe and accessible.
 
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