The first time the new collection of tunes from the Oranges Band broke out of the speakers and into the canals of my ears, my brain deciphered the transmission and responded instantaneously: "Oh my God, bands are already ripping off The Strokes! That didn't take long." Then I listened to it again and again. And again and again. Numerous times anyway. And each time my brain received the Oranges' signal, it calculated a slightly different response: "O.K., a little Strokes-esque (the esque at the end! Already!) But, hey wait just one minute, these guys are actually pretty damn good."
In fact, one fine day, I had the same five CDs in my stereo on shuffle for hours. And there were a couple particular songs that kept flying by and back again and I thought to myself, what a wuuuunderful world ... OK, I didn't think that but I do recall going, "Who are these songs by? I like 'em!" Sure enough, they were, of course, offerings from our juicy, Vitamin C-packed friends, the Oranges. Funny how first impressions are often faulty. OK, for those of us that have keen instincts, they're dead-on. But for the majority, first impressions are filtered through some meaningless judgmental system. And now that I've listened to the group's latest EP release, The Oranges Band on TV, time after time after time (and even in the guise of not recalling my initial disliking), I do believe my hasty initial reaction came of the thoughtless rather than thoughtful path. Because, hell, they're not ingenious masters of music, but I like their songs they're fun, catchy and even a little emotional, albeit not, all in all, original.
Further, what's at the forefront of most rock music? The singing. It was most definitely the Julian Casablancas-esque (here we go again!) vocals that made me go: "Julian! I mean, Lou! One of ya is being ripped off!" Truthfully, the Oranges' lead singer (not identified in the liner notes) sounds an awful lot like the aforementioned. But what if that's just the way he sings? What if he can't help it? Do we punish him anyway? Do we punish Julian for sounding like Lou? I dunno. Up to you, I guess. Me? I don't mind too much if there's some good tunes to back 'em up.
Still, the Oranges' lead fails to sound as desperate and commanding as Casablancas his vocals aren't as powerful, but they show promise. Each of the seven songs on the EP is well written, well played and, well, seriously infectious. In spite of the crunchy guitars, roughed-up singing and melodic imperfections, a pop influence is prominent and allows the songs a feeling of weightlessness.
I think it was "I'm Still Right" and "Success (Nothing Succeeding)" that rushed in and out like the tides that day as the stereo shuffled these were the specific tracks that made my ears twitch and fingers halt their typing. All right, all right, so the latter sounds a hell of a lot like The Strokes. Heavy distortion is set to the sneering vocals, a single reggae upbeat chord snaps like a rubber band and it's, like most Strokes songs, about a girl: "And it's all I need/ And it's no fight/ You only wanted change/ Well you're all right."
All the components of a Strokes song, right? Kind of it's just that the Oranges have that light airiness to them and The Strokes, to me, don't. The short "I'm Still Right" rolls and flows inside rushes of emotion and a cocksure attitude, while the sluggish "When I Fell Into the Bay" traverses along marching beat-like drum rolls and a dark, melancholy tone. In sum, it's a good record. Not an all-around original one, but a good one something carefree and catchy to have around, even it almost sounds like The Strokes.