Thursday, March 15, 2012

Orange Blossom Special, a review

Orange Blossom Special is a special tribute to the power of the Internet, and includes a shot and chaser to the amount of time it takes for a band without a manager to progress up the ranks. They were tapped to open the 1st annual 48 Hours Festival, ”The World’s Biggest Rock n Roll Party Weekend,” in Las Vegas. The festival included Korn, Godsmack, Hollywood Undead and Sick Puppies. Not back for a band with no manager and two cool brothers who work with me at Bevmo. But, with all due respect, a band’s accomplishments, though fanciful and impressive in certain regards, mean next to nothing if the band’s talent is one drink away from ending up in the gutter. 

Justin Bieber has a platinum album and Usher as a mentor. So agent or no agent is irrelevant in regards to talent. Does Orange Blossom Special’s Cocktails & Treasure Maps stand up on it’s own?

In a word? Almost. In a phrase, read below.

Echoing the intensity and party rock of the 80s and 90s, OBS is prepared to party until frizzy hair and Patrick Bateman become relevant again. This is a good thing. Not often have I listened to a pure rock n’ roll album that actually made me want to rock n’ roll.

“Wishful Thinking”: kicking off the jams with a series of head-banging riffs that sound yanked from the better days of Van Halen. In fact, the guitar work reminds me of Joe Satriani. This is a good thing.

“Shooting Daggers”: Lead singer/guitarist Anton reminds me of Johnny Cash mixed with Joe Elliot from Def Leppard. Think of this track as being a snide blend of Bon Jovi’s sarcasm and Leppard’s hyper-extended middle finger coupled with some furious guitar licks.

My fear was that the first half of the album would blend together, but each track stands on it’s own via infectious energy and charisma.

“Bill of Health”: the second half of the album hits a brief break in pacing, with several songs covering the same sort of theme of second chances. I’m all for songs about reflection, but they almost seem out of place on a party rock album filled with good times. The resulting songs “Stuck in a Rut” and “Past Few Years” are adequate for reflective rock, but I would rather see OBS make a killer track that sums up everything they are trying to say instead of stretching it over a series of songs. I had the same critique of Drake’s Thank Me Later in that the entire first 15 minutes of his album could be considered the same track. I’d prefer one dynamic track instead of three decent ones.

More emotional punch in a brief period of time.

“Ashes of Today”: this is the pivotal point of the album; we’ve gone through several decent tracks without hitting the standout yet. Well, listen no further. This track is impressive; excellent backing vocals and bass work from Alan, and Anton delivers his best performance which is whispered through distorted guitars and a swirling cavalcade of intensity.

Simply put, this track is the only one that MUST be listened to. The others are for the most part strong, but nothing exceptional. This track is something I would expect to play on mainstream radio while taking a road trip to the beach. This is a high complement. From me anyway.

For such limited time and resources, Orange Blossom Special has delivered material that is far stronger than most unsigned bands. They are almost there. With refinement, they could go someplace. For a classic rock album, Cocktails & Treasure Maps is not entirely polished, but more than makes up for it by being raw and energetic.

The things I want and look forward to in the future; more prominence from the backing vocals and percussion, and more diversity in Anton’s voice. He’s got the chops, I want to hear him go quiet and reflective.

Keep a drink nearby when listening, and to sum up the band’s mostly consistent ethos: “Any place, anytime, anywhere! Play every show like it’s your last and leave it all on the stage.”

You can find OBS on iTunes, Facebook & Spotify.

For the full review, TCM Full Review


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