Monday, July 27, 2015
The Return Of The Orange Humble Band
Darryl Mather, formerly of the Lime Spiders, formed the Orange Humble Band in 1995 with the help of some friends that included indie songwriter/producer extraordinaire Mitch Easter, Ken Stringfellow of The Posies and Big Star's Jody Stephens. Two records, one in 1997 and one in 2001, had their moments of pop brilliance, with 2001's "Humblin' (Across America)" often referred to as one of the greatest power pop records of all time. I like that record, but I don't love it.
I do love "Depressing Beauty," the new Orange Humble Band record and their first in almost 15 years.
Aided once again by Mitch Easter, Jody Stephens and Ken Stringfellow, Darryl Mather also employs Dwight Twilley, Susan Cowsill, Jon Auer (Stringfellow's partner in Posies crime) and Muscle Shoals legend Spooner Oldham for the ride and recording at the legendary Ardent Studios.
This is from the Citadel Records press release:
Returning to Ardent was like a homecoming," Mather commented. "So many significant ups and downs have happened both in my life and the band member's lives over the past 10 or so years. We realised at our reunion in Austin, whilst celebrating a sneak preview of Big Star's documentary film 'Nothing Can Hurt Me', that it was time to reunite to create some fresh new music, which not only honoured our varied musical roots but also the many fallen friends we have sadly lost over the last decade".
Along with the towering pop figure of Dwight Twilley, additional special musical guests for this recording include Susan Cowsill (background vocals), Spooner Oldham (Wurlitzer piano), multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lynch, (backing vocals, guitar, keyboards and percussion), Kirk Smothers, (baritone and tenor sax), Scott Thompson (trumpet and flugelhorn) and former Alex Chilton long time colleague Jim Spake (tenor sax and clarinet).
Finally, as a most welcoming inclusion, string arrangements were created and scored by Carl Marsh. Cult like in status, Marsh most famously wrote and conducted strings for the revered Big Star's 'Third' album of 1974. Hailed pop luminary Chris Stamey (dB's) also provided additional string arrangements.
I was mostly impressed with the sound of "Depressing Beauty." There is a familiar feeling throughout that reminds me of so many AM radio hits of the 70s and yet "Depressing Beauty" never feels retro. You will no doubt hear Dwight Twilley and of course, Big Star all over this record, but there is also something very southern and very soulful about these tunes.
I'll keep my gushing to a minimum, as I am still sitting with "Depressing Beauty." I will say this. One of my biggest complaints about new music is that I can never remember any of it. There is always something lacking, usually a hook or melody, and I rarely want to go back. First pass through "Depressing Beauty" and I immediately wanted to go back. So much jumped out at me. Maybe you'll feel the same.