Portland might adore Adrian Orange, but Pitchfork has no love for the hometown hero.
Just posted to pitchforkmedia.com today, David Raposa's review of Adrian Orange & Her Band's self-titled release on K Recs is a scathing one: He refers to Orange's shaky and uneven vocals as "caterwauling" and "grating." He has plenty of love for the backing band, referencing "K Records head honcho Calvin Johnson and Mr. Microphones Phil Elvrum" and describing the "frisson created between Orange's vocal wanderlust and his backing band's comparatively overwhelming competence." Raposa gave the album 3.8, which is rough.
Here's a particularly fiery section of the review:
God bless if this prospect inspires you to turn on and tune in, but it gets me thinking of archival footage I saw in a rock documentary of Big Brother & the Holding Company (sans Janis) jamming along to a pan of sizzling bacon, and those are the sort of thoughts that have me preemptively reaching for the stop button. Actually listening to this mess only corroborates my initial hunch.
For the record, there are a few errors in Raposa's analysis:
1. Johnson didn't really play anything on the album.
When I interviewed Johnson for the story I wrote about Orange
last month, he told me that Orange credited on the album everyone who was in the studio during recording, even if a musician only played on one or two tracks (which was the case with Johnson).
2. Phil's last name
is "Elverum," not "Elvrum." (Granted, he's gone by both spellings, but the extra "e" is preferred these days.)
3. If Raposa really loves the musicianship on this record,
he has Orange to thank for that. Orange wrote and arranged all of the music, save for a few horn parts by Old Time Relijun's sax player Ben Hartman.
But there are things about Raposa's review that ring true. I agree with Raposa's statement that "it's the band that makes Adrian Orange & Her Band as intermittently tolerable as it is." I even wrote something similar myself about the album:
But its success comes partially from Elverum's production and partially because Orange isn't standing alone. He has other musicians holding him up, their musical textures complementing a well-worn boy and his guitar.
While I disagree that the musicians Orange plays with are more skilled than he is (again, because Orange wrote all the music on the album), I do think that the backing band is what saved Adrian Orange & His Band
from collapsing under the weight and pressure of Orange's child-prodigy label.
Check out the rest of Raposa's review here.
A song from Adrian Orange & Her Band
Ridiculous press release Raposa mentions